The ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour resumes next week with the ICTSI Eagle Ridge Golf and Country Club Tour Proper, which offers a record purse of P3 million and a record format – four days on four different courses.
“This is going to be anybody’s race with no player holding a distinct advantage on any of the four courses at Eagle Ridge,” said Colo Ventosa, general manager of the organizing Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
“This should be the ultimate test of golf and mental toughness,” she added. “This is a first, at least in Asia.”
Truly, never had there been a tournament, even during the so-called local majors in the 90s, played over four different courses in all four days, making the upcoming event – set April 8-11 – nothing but a thriller of a chase for golf history and a record top prize of P550,000.
The 100-player field, led by first leg champion at ICTSI Splendido Jay Bayron and iCTSI John Hay stage winner Jun Rates, will be split and play the Norman and Faldo courses in the first two days with the surviving 40-plus ties after 36 holes moving over to the dreaded Dye course for the third round.
The final round will be played at the Aoki layout.
“It will require a lot of everything. The Dye layout alone is very tough, especially in the presence of the wind. But we have to be able to build momentum at Norman and Faldo courses in the first two days and see what happens at Dye,” said reigning back-to-back ICTSI PGT Order of Merit champion Tony Lascuña in Pilipino.
Lascuña placed fourth at Splendido and finished runner-up to Rates in Baguio, again making him one of the favorites in the third leg of the 16-stage circuit sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc.
“I know a tournament abroad that used three courses but I think this is the first four-course tournament for me. This will be fun but for sure it will be tough,” said three-time Asian Tour leg winner Angelo Que.
Meanwhile, the traditional pro-am tournament will be held Monday (April 7) with the leading pros teaming up with their amateur partners from the event’s chief backers, including Nike Golf, Custom Clubmakers, Titleist, Cleveland, Pacsports, Srixon, Callaway, Sharp and FootJoy and media partners Balls TV and ABS-CBN and guests from various sectors.
The Eagle Ridge format is just one of the many innovations the PGTI has implemented the last few years in its continuing effort to make the circuit more interesting and provide new challenges to the men of the tour. It also put up the North and South duel two years ago, held the first-ever ladies pro circuit – the ICTSI Ladies PGT – last year and staged a separate Q-School for foreign players this year.
Also expected to join the title hunt at Eagle Ridge are Bayron, Rates, Angelo Que, Elmer Salvador, Miguel Tabuena, Frankie Minoza, Clyde Mondilla, Rufino Bayron, Carl Santos-Ocampo, Orlan Sumcad, Rey Pagunsan, Jessie Balasabas, Mars Pucay, Anthony Fernando, Paul Echavez, Mhark Fernando and Jhonnel Ababa.
Manila-based Canadian Rick Gibson, the best placed foreign player at John Hay at joint ninth, is also tipped to lead the foreign contingent along with Swede Malcolm Kokocinski, Japanese Tomo Yoshinaga and Korean Park Gyu Ha.
Sherwood Hills, also in Cavite, will host the fourth leg on April 23-26 before action shifts to Valley Golf in Antipolo for the fifth leg for the ICTSI Valley Golf Challenge on May 7-10.