Back in form, Elmer Salvador guns for back-to-back as he headlines a stellar field in the P1.5 million-ICTSI Rancho Palos Verdes Classic, which begins July 1 at Rancho Palos Verdes Golf and Country Club in Davao City.
The P1.5 million-event also marks the return of the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour in Mindanao region after a break last year with the Apo Golf and Country Club hosting the next stop next week for the ICTSI Apo Golf Invitational.
That makes Salvador the player to beat, along with a slew of his fellow Davaoeño shotmakers out to dominate the 72-hole championship serving as the eighth leg of the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Michael Bibat won the 2013 ICTSI Palos Verdes Classic, then a 54-hole event, to record his maiden pro victory but the former Asian Games bronze never won again, making him hungrier for title and a threat for the top P270,000 purse put up by International Container Terminal Services, Inc.
Tony Lascuña, a five-leg winner last year, is also raring to nail the elusive win after a winless run in the first seven legs while Miguel Tabuena shoots for a second win after romping off with the crown at ICTSI Splendido and Rufino Bayron seeks to snap out of a year-long spell.
Salvador beat Lascuña, Tabuena and Bayron by two to retain the ICTSI Riviera Classic crown last week but the troika is itching to get back at the former and foil him from his back-to-back title drive.
“I’m happy to have regained my form and confidence and I hope to win again in Davao,” said Salvador after ending a year-long slump at Riviera. “But I know it will be tough with so many good players around.”
Charles Hong, who ruled the ICTSI Luisita Championship last month but skipped the Riviera leg to play on the Asian Development Tour leg in Bali, Indonesia, is back this week, together with veteran Cassius Casas, who skipped last week’s event due to hand injury.
That makes the cast star-studded with last year’s leg winners Arnold Villacencio, Clyde Mondilla, Joenard Rates, Zanieboy Gialon and Mars Pucay also in the fold along with Jay Bayron, Ferdie Aunzo, Anthony Fernando, Marvin Dumandan, Orlan Sumcad, Jun Bernis, Elmer Saban and Dante Becierra.
Meanwhile, Salvador, Lascuña, Tabuena and Bayron and the rest of the leading pros test the Palos Verdes layout in Tuesday’s traditional pro-am where they will be paired with the amateurs and guests of the event’s chief backers.