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Saturday, July 13, 2024

Fresh challenges await at ICTSI Lakewood Championship

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The untested layout notwithstanding, the men of the Philippine Golf Tour brace for a spirited duel of ball control, precision and accuracy when the ICTSI Lakewood Championship kicks off tomorrow (Tuesday, June 4) in Nueva Ecija.

The Lakewood Golf and Country Club in Cabanatuan City is hosting a tournament of this caliber for the first time, presenting a new kind of challenge with its unfamiliar terrain and greens, which levels the playing field for the country’s leading players and rising stars.

While the cast has played the course once or twice during practice rounds, several pros get their last chance to re-familiarize themselves with the 7,049-yard layout in today’s (Monday) traditional pro-am tournament, where they will be paired with amateur guests of the sponsoring ICTSI and event’s supporters.

The course boasts multi-bunker fairways interconnected by 16 man-made lakes serving as water hazards, emphasizing the importance of course management.

While the seasoned campaigners look to dominate, the young talents aim to sustain their impressive performance from the last PGT leg in the Philippine Masters, where Hyun Ho Rho slugged it out with veteran Angelo Que in a thrilling duel before losing steam in the stretch, settling for a runner-up finish.

However, the 19-year-old Korean is eager for another shot at a breakthrough win, along with Aidric Chan, who finished solo sixth, and Ryan Monsalve, who ended up seventh after leading the first two rounds.

A couple of aces who won two of the first four legs of this year’s 10-stage tour, organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. and supported by PGTI official apparel Kampfortis Golf, also seek to redeem themselves from mediocre performances at the Masters, including Apo leg winner Jhonnel Ababa and Caliraya Springs champion Clyde Mondilla.

Tony Lascuna, who tied for third the last time, is also expected to figure in the title hunt in the P2.5 million championship, along with fellow former leg winners Rupert Zaragosa, Reymon Jaraula, Guido van der Valk, Michael Bibat and Zanieboy Gialon.

Que, however, has bowed out due to a previous commitment, while Lloyd Go, who shared third place with Lascuna and amateur Jeffren Lumbo at the Masters, is competing in the Abema Tour in Japan, also this week.

Still, the field remains as talent-laden as ever with players like Sean Ramos, Dino Villanueva, Jay Bayron, Nilo Salahog, Russel Bautista, Kristoffer Arevalo, Ivan Monsalve and Jonas Magcalayo ready to spring a surprise or two.

Daiya Suzuki, who tied for eighth at the Masters, along with Ozeki Kakeru, Fukuyama Kota, Collin Wheeler, Kang Chonkoo, Koi Inoue and Myungchal Hwang form part of a formidable foreign contingent that adds another layer of challenge to the 72-hole championship.

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