Jay Bayron’s improbable come-from-behind win at Splendido Classic in Tagaytay last Saturday makes him all the more the hot favorite when the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour heads to Baguio City this Wednesday for the second leg at the par-69 Camp John Hay Golf Club.
For one, the 2010 ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour Order of Merit winner will be coming into the P2 million-event oozing with confidence following his surprise victory at Splendido where he came from nine strokes down to edge younger brother Rufino for the crown by one with a closing 69.
But what drives Jay to go for a follow-up in Baguio is that he will be defending the crown he won, also in come-from-behind fashion last year. Down by five in the final round, Jay shot a tournament-best 10-under 59 to force a sudden death then nipped Miguel Tabuena on the second playoff hole to snatch the crown.
“It’s nice to win again in this kind of fashion,” said Jay, referring to his Splendido victory. “This will really boost my confidence as I try to make it back-to-back in Baguio.”
That makes him the player to beat at the ICTSI Camp John Hay Championship which features practically the same international field he bested at Splendido.
That includes Rufino Bayron, Tony Lascuña, Elmer Salvador and Clyde Mondilla, four players raring to erase the stigma of their failed bid in the kickoff leg of this year’s circuit sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc. and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Rufino, however, will be more hard-pressed and pressured to deliver after blowing what had looked like to be an insurmountable seven-shot lead in the last 18 holes. So is Salvador, who also squandered a five-shot lead halfway through, and Mondilla and Lascuña, who flubbed a couple of short birdie putts in the closing holes and missed forcing a playoff with Jay.
Frankie Miñoza, who also bounced back in the early going of the final round only to reel back with a closing 73, is also in the fold, along with Carl Santos-Ocampo, Rey Pagunsan, Robert Pactolerin, Paul Echavez, Anthony Fernando, Jhonnel Ababa, Jessie Balasabas, Jun Bernis, Mhark Fernando, Charles Hong and James Ryan Lam.
Cassius Casas, who humbled the elite local field to win The Country Club Invitational last February, is also out to atone for his boo-boo in the second round at Splendido where he was disqualified after signing a wrong scorecard.
Malcolm Kokocinski, meanwhile, will head the foreign challenge in the four-day championship after the Swede emerged as the top foreign player at joint 10th at Splendido. Also vying for the top P360,000 purse are PGT Q-School topnotcher Rick Gibson of Canada, Tony Guerrero and Elliot Hume of the US, Koreans Kim Chang Hoi, Mun Jae Hyung, Gyuha Park and Park Jin Hyeon.
Meanwhile, the leading pros test the tight up-and-down layout in Tuesday’s traditional pro-am tournament where they will be paired with their respective amateurs 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 Sports+Action.
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