A WIDE-OPEN title chase looms when the P1-million ICTSI Del Monte Championship blasts off tomorrow at Del Monte Golf Club in Bukidnon.
Fancied to contend for the top P200,000 purse are reigning Order of Merit champion and ICTSI Calatagan leg winner Antonio Lascuña, John Hay stage champion Jay Bayron and last week’s Palos Verdes leg winner Michael Bibat.
They will be challenged by Miguel Tabuena, runaway winner in this year’s PGT kickoff leg at Sherwood, and Mars Pucay, who is seeking to snap a year-long victory drought after topping the ICTSI Iloilo leg last year.
Tabuena and Pucay are returning to PGT Tour action after finishing fifth and 11th, respectively, in the Templer Park Masters of the Asian Development Tour in Malaysia.
Also in the fold is local hero Frankie Miñoza, winner of this year’s The Country Club Invitational, who honed his game in the difficult, three-laden par 72 layout.
The country’s leading pros test the course today when they team up with officials and guests of the event’s chief backers, including Nike Golf, Empire Golf and Sports Shop, Mizuno, Titleist, Srixon, Foot Joy, Callaway, Pacsports, Custom Clubmakers, Cleveland Golf and Sharp.
Other notable entries are former OOM winner Elmer Salvador, 2011 three-leg winner Jonel Ababa, Rufino Bayron, Ferdie Aunzo, Mark Fernando, Carl Santos-Ocampo and Charles Hong, Rey Pagunsan and Dutch Guido Van der Valk.
Cassius Casas, lucky winner of the Del Monte leg in 2011, and Richard Sinfuego are also entered. Sinfuego had the lead going to the last hole but was disqualified, along with two others, on a final hole infraction, enabling Casas, then running fourth, to snatch the crown. Roy Luarca