Dabawenyos Jay Bayron, Tony Lascuna and Elmer Salvador made last-minute decisions to join the ICTSI Calatagan Challenge, completing a stellar cast in the P1 million event which reels off today (May 8, Wednesday) at the wind-swept Calatagan Golf Club in Batangas.
Originally set to play on the OneAsia Tour in Korea, Bayron signed up for the third leg of the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour instead, seeking a follow-up to his stirring come-from-behind victory at ICTSI Camp John Hay Championship two weeks ago.
The reigning Asian Development Tour Order of Merit champion will be facing practically the same field he humbled in Baguio, plus one, with fancied Juvic Pagunsan taking a break from the Japan PGA Tour to slug it out with his fellow aces in the 54-hole tournament organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Lascuna, the reigning ICTSI PGT OOM titlist, and Salvador, the former local tour’s No. 1, were also set to compete abroad this week but changed their plans and joined Bayron and the rest of the elite field in the hunt for the top P200,000 purse in the event sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc.
Bayron, who rallied from five strokes down and nipped Miguel Tabuena on the second playoff hole to snatch the John Hay crown, drew Mars Pucay and Benjiie Magada in the 7:05 a.m. flight on No. 10, upbeat of his chances to nail a second straight crown in the circuit backed by Nike Golf, Empire Golf and Sports Shop, Mizuno, Titleist, Srixon, Foot Joy, Callaway, Pacsports, Custom Clubmakers, Cleveland Golf and Sharp.
“I need a good start since this is a short tournament, not much time for a rally the way I did the last time out,” said Bayron in Filipino.
Pagunsan, who spent much of his time last year vying on the lucrative Japan circuit and the Asian Tour after winning the Asian Tour’s OOM crown, kicks off his bid at 6:55 a.m. on No. 1 in a group that includes Danny Zarate and top amateur Rupert Zaragosa.
Tabuena, out to redeem himself from that failed bid in Baguio, tees off next of Pagunsan’s group at 7:05 a.m. with Ferdie Aunzo and Charles Hong while Lascuna, hobbled by a nagging back injury, drew a late tee-time at 10:50 a.m. on No. 10 with Elmer Saban and Christopher delos Santos.
Salvador starts two flights later at 11 a.m. with Peter Villaber and Carl Santos-Ocampo while defending champion Mhark Fernando joins Rufino Bayron and Rey Pagunsan in the 10:30 a.m. flight on No. 1.
Others tipped to contend for the crown in the event, supported by the event’s media partners Balls, Studio 23, Pinoygolfer.com and Inquirer Golf, are Clyde Mondilla, Jhonnel Ababa, Zanie Boy Gialon, Marvin Dumandan, Artemio Murakami, Gerald Rosales, Jun Bernis, Anthony Fernando and Dutch Guido Van der Valk.(pr)