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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Young turks, top guns clash as PGT Match Play unfolds

The ICTSI The Country Club Match Play Invitational gets going today (Tuesday) with a mix of experienced players and rising stars slugging it out for early survival in a format that also provides a platform for Asian Tour campaigners to spice up the title chase in head-to-head clashes.

Defending champion Tony Lascuña draws Gab Manotoc, Elmer Salvador duels with Keanu Jahns, Michael Bibat tests Korean Hyun Ho Rho and Frankie Miñoza faces Ira Alido in top matches ushering in the P2 million championship at the TCC course in Laguna.

The four-day tournament also sees the return of Miguel Tabuena, Justin Quiban, Angelo Que and Lloyd Go, adding an extra layer of intensity to the competition in a clash of generations with the seasoned campaigners relying on experience and the younger talents eager to make their mark.

Among the anticipated matchups in the event which features the Top 32 players on the Order of Merit after the 10-stage PGT season is the 7:20 a.m. clash between Tabuena, winner at Luisita and No. 2 in the Asian Tour OOM derby, and fellow Asian Tour regular Go.

But a slew of riveting matches are also on tap, including the Lascuña-Manotoc duel at 8:52 a.m., while Jahns, who lost a 4&3 verdict to Lascuna in the event’s inaugurals at Villamor last year, is eager to kick off another title run against former OOM winner Salvador, who tied for seventh in the last two PGT events at Del Monte and South Pacific.

They tangle at 7:16 a.m. while Bibat, who nipped Lascuna and Reymon Jaraula by one to capture the Eagle Ridge crown last year, braces for a showdown with Rho, this year’s Q-School topnotcher who is still in search of a big finish, in their 7:56 a.m. clash.

While Alido, who opened the PGT season with a come-from-behind victory in Bacolod, hopes to bank on his power and energy against Miñoza in their 8:28 a.m. encounter, the golfing legend looks to lean on his sheer talent and experience in a bid to progress in the knockout format on a course that puts premium on skill, strategy and nerves.

Jhonnel Ababa, meanwhile, tangles with former amateur hotshot Ferdie Aunzo in the last pairing at 9 a.m. with the ace Davaoeño shotmaker eyeing to cap a successful season after ruling the Mimosa Plus leg last September on his way to securing his first OOM crown in the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.

In other matches, Jaraula, winner at Valley last June, faces Gerald Rosales at 8:44 a.m. after the 8:36 a.m. duel between Iloilo leg runaway champion Rupert Zaragosa and Mars Pucay, while Dino Villanueva and Joenard Rates collide at 8:12 a.m.

Que and Quiban, meanwhile, take on Korean Min Seong Kim and Elee Bisera at 8:04 a.m. and 7:32 a.m., respectively, while Marvin Dumandan, who lost to Quiban in a four-hole playoff at South Pacific, trades shots with Rico Depilo at 7:48 a.m.

Dutch Guido van der Valk, the reigning back-to-back The Country Club Invitational champion, squares off with Art Arbole at 8:20 a.m., while Albin Engino and Nilo Salahog face off at 7 a.m., Zanieboy Gialon and Jay Bayron duel at 7:08 a.m. and young Sean Ramos and Fidel Concepcion slug it out at 7:40 a.m.

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