Premium will be on shotmaking as the Philippine Golf Tour Asia’s long hitters gear up for four days of power duel in the $100,000 Summit Point World 18 Challenge which gets going today, Wednesday in Lipa, Batangas.
It could also be a test of mental toughness as the men of the tour battle in wet and windy conditions spawned by Typhoon Rosita, making the Robert Trent Jones Jr.-designed layout, which features some of the best holes one can find anywhere in the world, softer and longer than its 7017 yardage.
It could also boil down to putting in the final day with the course’s last line of defense tipped to challenge even the steadiest players in the stellar cast.
Clyde Mondilla strung up a 17-under 271 card at Summit Point Club to dominate the closing event of last year’s PGT that also served as his coronation as Order of Merit champion. But given the current playing conditions, the same kind of scoring is unlikely to be matched despite the field all coming into the event in top form following a series of tournaments—in the just concluded PGT and the ongoing PGT Asia.
James Ryan Lam, for one, is brimming with confidence coming into the event, having snapped a near-decade long search for a breakthrough with a victory in last week’s PGTA CAT Open, where he outclassed the elite field at the tight, hazard-laden Luisita layout with superb short game and exceptional putting.
But at Summit Point, emphasis will be on power although its sloping fairways, big bunkers and deceptive greens are expected to challenge the best players in the fold.
They include American Josh Salah, who rallied to finish second to Lam last week, along with the rest of the top 10 finishers, led by Jobim Carlos, Ira Alido, Jhonnel Ababa, Elmer Salvador, Seung Jae Maeng of the US, Charles Hong, Justin Quiban and Tarik Can, also of the US.
Young Koreans Micah Shin and Kim Joo Hyung are also in the elite roster, ready to slug it out with the best and the brightest in pursuit of the top $17,500 purse in the seventh leg of the second season of the region’s newest circuit put up by ICTSI and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Other foreign aces expected to step up are Americans Nicolas Paez, a recent PGT winner, Lexus Keoninh, and John Michael O’Toole, Thais Pasavee Lertvilai, V. Rattanaphiboonkij and Sutijet Kooratanapisan, Lee Sang of Canada, Issei Mori of Japan, Aussie Jack Sullivan and Peter Stojanovski of Macedonia.
Mondilla is also tipped to contend after regaining his winning form with a victory at ICTSI Luisitia Invitational, along with Michael Bibat, Keanu Jahns, Jay Bayron, Jerson Balasabas, Zanieboy Gialon, Dino Villanueva and Joenard Rates in the event backed by Custom Clubmakers, Meralco, K&G Golf Apparel, BDO, Sharp, KZG, PLDT and M.Y. Shokai Technology, Inc.