Wide-open battle looms as ICTSI Riviera unwraps
The men of the tour hope to start out strong coming off a month-long break as they kick off their chase for the top P270,000 purse in the ICTSI Riviera Classic unfolding Wednesday at Riviera’s Langer layout in Silang, Cavite.
Defending champion Elmer Salvador drew Frankie Miñoza and Clyde Mondilla in the 7:20 a.m. group on No. 1 while Tony Lascuña will start at the same time on No. 10 with Jay Bayron and Keanu Jahns while Miguel Tabuena will be with Marvin Dumandan and Ferdie Aunzo in the 8:20 a.m. threesome at the back in three of the featured flights in the P1.5 million event sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc.
Salvador bested a tough international field in adverse condition to win this event, then a leg of the Asian Development Tour, last with the ace Davaoeno shotmaker upbeat of his chances to score a repeat against the cream of the local crop.
But he stressed the need to come up with strong start and build some kind of momentum and confidence needed on a tough, challenging course like Langer.
“I will just play my game and try to score early,” said the soft-spoken Salvador, who struggled and placed 10th in the last ICTSI PGT leg at Luisita last month.
Lascuña, winner of five legs last year but still chasing his first this season, has also expressed confidence of his title bid but likewise wary of the field and the course especially in the presence of the wind.
“You can never tell what would happen here at Langer. It’s a thinking course and you have to play it smart here,” said Lascuña.
Tabuena, who ruled this year’s kickoff leg at Splendido and had two runner-up finishes at Manila Masters at Eagle Ridge but struggled to finish tied for 11th at Luisita, is also coming into the event in good form and is optimistic of his chances this week.
“I’ve never won here but I’m very happy with my game now. I think that’s one advantage,” said Tabuena, No. 2 in the Order of Merit ranking behind absentee and two-leg winner Angelo Que.
Others tipped to crowd Salvador, Lascuña and Tabuena for top honors in the 72-hole championship organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. are last year’s leg winners Mars Pucay, Arnold Villacencio, Joenard Rates, Rufino Bayron, Zanie Boy Gialon and Mondilla.’
A slew of lesser-lights is also out to spoil the big guns’ bid and fuel their respective title drives, including Jessie Balasabas, Jhonnel Ababa, Mhark Fernando, Anthony Fernando, Edward Reyes, James Ryan Lam, Orlan Sumcad, Jun Bernis and Elmer Saban.
Dutch Guido Van der Valk, meanwhile, heads the foreign players also out to stamp their class in the event along with Koreans Gyuha Park, Park Jun Song, Park Jun Hyeok, Lee Hyun Woo and Min Byungki and Japanese amateur and last year’s top awardee Yuto Katsuragawa.
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