Tainan, Taiwan—Jay Bayron and Tony Lascuña set out for a power duel with the leading players of PGA of Taiwan (TPGA) as well as their fellow Philippine Golf Tour Asia campaigners, upbeat but wary of their respective bids in the Nan Pao TPGA Open unfolding today (Thursday, Sept. 26) at the Nan Pao Golf Club here.
“Length-wise, I think we can measure up with the rest of the field,” said Lascuña before pointing to putting as key to their campaign in the $100,000 event, the second PGTA-sanctioned tournament this year after the Daan TPGA Open in Taichung last May.
Lascuña missed the Taichung event after withdrawing at the last-minute due to hand injury. But back in form with a string of top five finishes, including a couple of runner-up efforts, on the PGT the last few months, the former three-time PGT Order of Merit believes he’s due for a big finish.
“My ball-striking and iron game are quite okay so it will boil down to putting,” said Lascuña, seeking a follow-up to his last victory at PGT Forest Hills in 2017. “Age has somewhat slowed me down but the desire to excel and win are still there.”
Bayron also hopes to use hunger and redemption as motivation as the multi-titled campaigner who last tasted victory—in back-to-back fashions at Aboitiz Invitational and PGT Riviera in 2016 —tries to end not only a long slump but also a number of below par performances, including a missed cut stint in the last Aboitiz tilt at Wack Wack and a tied for fifth at Pueblo de Oro where he contended in the final round.
“I feel good about my chances this week. The course is in good condition but the greens are unpredictable and could decide the winner on Sunday,” said Bayron, who hopes to come up with a strong start unlike in the rain-hit Daan Open where he never recovered from an opening 72 and wound up tied at 27th.
But the Pinoy duo will be in for a tough outing with the rest of the 125-player starting field all geared up for an early assault at the tree-lined, relatively-flat par-72 layout in hot conditions, including the hosts out to redeem themselves from their failed bid at Daan Open where Song Mengyu squandered a huge lead in the final round and lost by two to PGTA mainstay Wisut Artjanawat.
Mengyu is back in an attempt to complete an unfinished business but Artjanawat is also in the fold as spearhead of the 16-player strong Thai team likewise out to nail a second PGTA crown this year after Namchok Tantipokhakul ruled the kickoff leg of third season of the region’s emerging circuit put up by ICTSI at Luisita last April.
Other PGTA campaigners joining the chase for the top $17,500 purse are Singapore’s Abiel Lim, Korean Lee Sangun, Luke Trocado of South Africa, Keisuke Takahashi of Japan, Finland’s Teemu Putkonen and American Lein Benjamin.
Lascuña, meanwhile, drew an early start at 8:15 a.m. on No. 10 with locals Lin Yuan Wei and Lee Shih Hung, while Bayron will kick off his bid at 12:05 p.m. on No. 1 with Yeh Wei Tze and Peng Hung Ching, also of Taiwan.
Sean Talmadge is the third Pinoy entry in the event backed by PLDT Enterprise, Meralco, BDO and PGT Asia official apparel Pin High and serving as the PGTA’s fifth leg and sixth stop of the TPGA.