DAVAO , Philippines —
The Philippine Golf Tour kicks off its grueling seven-leg, three-month jaunt in Mindanao and Visayas today here with the men of the tour wary of the challenge but keen on dishing out their best in pursuit of titles beginning with the rich ICTSI Apo Golf Invitational at the Apo Golf and Country Club.
While the homegrown talents enjoy some kind of an edge on local knowledge of the hazard-laden layout, the rest, including a crack foreign crew, are out to spoil their drive, all ready to slug it out with the best shot-for-shot and putt-for-putt right at the start of the P3 million tournament sponsored by ICTSI.
Most, particularly the local aces, are upbeat of their title bids in the 72-hole championship organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. while some have expressed guarded optimism on a tight, long course with unpredictable putting surface.
“I like my chances. I’m in good condition but putting will be the key,” said Tony Lascuña, who won here when the tour made its last stop in 2015.
Fellow Davaoeños Jay Bayron, fresh from his triumph at PGT Asia Manila Southwoods leg last month, and Jhonnel Ababa, who scored back-to-back PGTA victories early this year, also exude confidence but both hinted at mixed approaches on the tricky layout.
“Good chances to win again but the course is tough and I need to be careful, especially off the tee,” said Bayron. “I rather go for a 3-wood just to get on the fairway and be able to set up birdie opportunities.”
“The course is tough with so many hazards,” said Ababa. “But I’d still gamble on my driver to produce a good score.”
Lascuña and Bayron actually gear up for an early showdown with recent PGT Eagle Ridge winner Guido Van der Valk of the Netherlands in one of the featured flights at 7:30 a.m. on No. 1 while Ababa also drew the same time slot on No. 10 with another Davaoeño Elmer Salvador and golf legend Frankie Miñoza.