Local tour’s No. 1 Tony Lascuna braces for a tough outing as he sets out as the marked man in a stellar field chasing fame and fortune in the P5 million The Country Club Invitational which gets going Feb. 7 at the TCC layout in Laguna.
The Dabawenyo has been installed as the early favorite to pocket the record P1.5 million top purse in the four-day championship owing to his form and confidence that netted him two big victories the last two months while running away with the Order of Merit crown of the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour.
He dominated the elite local field from start to finish to rule the ICTSI Wack Wack Invitational, the local circuit’s final leg of the last December, then came from behind to snatch the Sabah Masters plum on the ASEAN PGA Tour in Malaysia early last month.
But the 42-year-old ace Davaoeno shotmaker has opted to downplay his chances in the upcoming top-level 72-hole event which features the top 36 players of last year’s ICTSI-PGT, saying “the field is strong and talent-laden.”
“I’ve been training very hard during the off-season, trying to keep my form and stay in shape,” said Lascuna. “But since the event serves as the kick-off leg of the local circuit, we need to figure out well at TCC not so much for the prize but to gain confidence for the rest of another busy season.”
Lascuna was one of the early winners of what has become the country’s golfing major put up by golf patron Ricky Razon, chairman and CEO of ICTSI in honor of his late father and ICTSI founder, Enrique “Don Pocholo” Razon, Sr. But the former national champion, who won in 2004, had a roller-coaster campaign the next eight years, regaining his form only last year when he posted three victories on the ICTSI PGT en route to claiming the OOM title and the Players’ Player award.
“I’ve been hitting the ball well and confident with my game but it will still be an uphill battle. There are just too many talented players around,” said Lascuna.
Meanwhile, the traditional 18-hole pro-am event, featuring the leadings pros and ICTSI’s guests from various sectors, will be held on Feb. 6.
Tipped as the other early contenders are Juvic Pagunsan and Angelo Que, who are both gunning for a record fourth crown in the event, along with former champions Cassius Casas (2003), Jerome Delariarte (2005), Artemio Murakami (2009) along with Zanie Boy Gialon, Miguel Tabuena, Jay Bayron, Elmer Saban, Clyde Mondilla, Charles Hong, Mhark Fernando, Rufino Bayron, Mars Pucay, Richard Sinfuego, Carl Santos-Ocampo, Jhonnel Ababa, Jun Bernis;
Randy Garalde, Michael Bibat, Ferdie Aunzo, James Ryan Lam, Orlan Sumcad, Joenard Rates, Benjie Magada, Christopher delos Santos, Arnold Villavicencio, Rey Pagunsan, Anthony Fernando and Frankie Minoza.(pr)