Miguel Tabuena hopes to ride the momentum of his thrilling victory at Rancho Palos Verdes last weekend as he headlines the P1.5 million-ICTSI Apo Golf Invitational, which tees off Wednesday at the Apo Golf and Country Club in Davao City.
While the homegrown bets, who honed their talent and skills around the quaint layout, remain the favorites to slug it out for the top P270,000 purse, Tabuena is out to spoil the local aces’ bid the way he foiled Elmer Salvador and the rest at Palos Verdes to nail his second leg victory on the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour.
The ICTSI Splendido winner used two 66s and a 64 under preferred lie rule to dominate the field after three rounds but needed to scramble at the finish to card a 69, hold off Salvador and complete a run of under par scores at the rolling layout. His 23-under aggregate, however, still fell short of the all-time best posted by the eminent Frankie Miñoza (68-64-66-66) at Del Monte Golf Club during the 1990 Del Monte Open of the then premier circuit Philippine Golf Foundation Tour.
But with his form and confidence, Tabuena will be trying to at least match Miñoza’s feat although he expects a furious challenge not only from Salvador but also from a slew of Davaoeño shotmakers, including title-hungry Tony Lascuña, Cassius Casas, Jay Bayron, Rufino Bayron, Jhonnel Ababa, Mhark Fernando, Ferdie Aunzo and Marvin Dumandan and Davao-based American Micah Shin.
The flat, tree-lined and hazard-laden layout is actually making its return to big-time golf in four years after Juvic Pagunsan beat Salvador by four to capture the last ICTSI Apo Golf Invitational via wire-to-wire triumph in 2011.
Meanwhile, winless halfway through the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc., Lascuña hopes to finally put it all together this week and bag the elusive crown.
“I just can’t seem to pull it off,” said Lascuña, after slowing down with a closing 69 after a fiery third round 66 to finish solo fourth at Palos Verdes. “But I’m confident of my chances at Apo where I expect the other local aces to likewise contend for the crown.”
Tabuena, Salvador and Lascuña will be among the leading pros teaming up with amateurs and guests from the event’s chief backers, including ICTSI, Nike Golf, Srixon, Callaway, Empire Golf, TaylorMade, Custom Clubmakers and Sharp, in today’s (Tuesday) traditional pro-am tournament.
After the two-leg Davao swing, the circuit returns to Southern Luzon for the ICTSI Classic at Mt. Malarayat Golf and Country Club on July 29-Aug. 1 before Manila Southwoods hosts the 11th leg on Aug. 5-8 for the annual Aboitiz Invitational.