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Sunday, March 3, 2024

Jahns upbeat for ICTSI PH Masters drive

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Keanu Jahns returns to Villamor with high hopes of scoring a breakthrough after falling short the last time out at the military course, free from injury that had sidelined him after yielding the ICTSI Villamor Match Play crown last December.

But with a strong finish in the recent ICTSI Luisita Championship, the 28-year-old Fil-German exudes confidence while gearing up for the ICTSI Villamor Philippine Masters, which gets going May 24 at the relatively flat but challenging layout in Pasay.

“I’ve always felt comfortable playing at Villamor, so hopefully I can have another good finish this year,” said Jahns, who upended a slew of fancied rivals to earn a shot at the crown in the inaugural Match Play Invitational.

Keanu Jahns exudes confidence after strong finish in the recent ICTSI Luisita Championship.

But a wrist injury kept him out of play in the first five tournaments of this year’s Philippine Golf Tour, including The Country Club Invitational where he also placed second to now PGA Tour campaigner Tom Kim in 2019.

He marked his return with a joint 16th place finish at Luisita.

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“I had an OK start at Luisita considering that the last event I played before was the Villamor Match Play and I only started playing again the week before the event due to injury,” said Jahns. “Luisita was a good test for me to see if my wrist would handle tournament week again and it did.”

That makes him a marked player in the upcoming P2.5 million event put up by ICTSI and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc., given his length and patience that helped anchor his bid in the head-to-head duel.

“Yes, my length is definitely an advantage but I feel what it would come down to is approach and short game. If I am able to get closer to the hole with my wedges and short irons, I’ll have a better chance making birdies,” added Jahns.

A birdie-hunt is indeed expected in the 72-hole, stroke play championship given the elite field’s form coming off four highly-competitive battles in Bacolod, Iloilo, Caliraya and Luisita with TCC Invitational back-to-back winner Guido van der Valk and Jerson Balasabas, winner of the last ICTSI PH Masters in 2018, headlining the 66-player cast.

While a number of top guns are competing overseas, including Match Play and Caliraya Springs leg champion Tony Lascuna, Bacolod leg winner Ira Alido and Luisita titlist Miguel Tabuena, Angelo Que and Clyde Mondilla, the depth of the PH Masters field remains deep with Jhonnel Ababa, Reymon Jaurala, Michael Bibat, Joenard Rates, Jay Bayron, Marvin Dumandan and Iloilo stop champion Rupert Zaragosa all ready for a stab at Masters glory.

Legend Frankie Miñoza and fellow former Masters titlist Robert Pactolerin are also in the fold with the former underscoring his readiness to contend again after doing so and finishing tied for seventh at Luisita.

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