The local top guns and a slew of foreign aces aim for a strong start coming off a long break, all primed up to get into the mix in pursuit of the crown in the ICTSI Club Filipino de Cebu Invitational which gets going today in Danao City.
Jhonnel Ababa braces for a fiercer challenge from the rest of the 79-player starting field, which he bested via an eight-under overall card in the rain-shortened inaugurals of the event last year.
Though the organizers pushed the tees back to make it more challenging, Ababa still believes he can do it again even via full route.
“I like my chances (to score a repeat). I think 12-under will win it,” said Ababa, who, however, stressed the need for his putting to click to reign again in the event serving as the third leg of the Philippine Golf Tour’s milestone 10th season and the kickoff leg of a four-stage Visayan swing.
Emphasis will also be on precision at the tight, tricky layout, which also requires course management with the reachable par-5s and dogleg holes posing as baits for those who would take the risk.
“If others will opt for safe shots of lay-ups, I would rather attack them with my driver for possible shots at an eagle,” added Ababa.
That makes the first round quite interesting with the likes of Americans Lexus Keoninh, Charles Lee, Pete Vilairatana and Sean Talmadge, Aussies Fidel Concepcion and Calum Junifer, Koreans Hwang Myung Chal, Kim Young Hyun, Park Jun Sung, and Japanese Ryui Hashimoto, Makoto Iwasaki, Yudai Suzuki, Kei Matsuoka, Kanata Nakagawa, Ryo Nishimura and Raiki Okamoto expected to likewise bank on their long games to fuel their respective title bids in the P3 million event sponsored by ICTSI.
Others looking for a big start are Emilio Parodi of Argentina, PGT Q-School topnotcher Marcos Pastor of Spain, Thai Pachara Sakulyong and Peter Stojanovski of Macedonia along with the event’s six invitees, including PGT Asia leg winner David Gleeson of Australia, Mateo Gomez and Sebastian Lopez of Colombia, Englishman George Twyman, Jack Sullivan, also from Australia, and former national champion Lloyd Go.
But the rest of the locals are ready to slug it out and foil the foreign aces’ drive, including Jay Bayron, Tony Lascuña, former Phl Masters titlist Jerson Balasabas and PGT Asia leg winners James Ryan Lam, Justin Quiban, Joenard Rates and Rene Menor and PGT leg champions Zanieboy Gialon, Charles Hong, Mars Pucay and Manila-based Dutch Guido Van der Valk along with Rey Pagunsan, winner of the National pro-am with Aidric Chan at Splendido last month.