CEBU CITY—After three second-place finishes in as many tournaments, Elmer Salvador is due for a win. And what better place to hammer one out than the site of his last big international victory.
His confidence at a high and his game very near where he wants it to be, the 43-year-old ex-caddy from Davao defends his Asean Development Tour-Aboitiz Invitational crown starting today at Cebu Country Club.
Salvador shot a 4-under-par 68 in wet conditions in yesterday’s pro-am, confirming the fine form that gave him runner-up finishes to a red-hot Frankie Miñoza in the last two legs of the ICTSI Tour in Mindanao.
Miñoza is playing in the Senior British Open this week, but that doesn’t mean it will be a walk in the park for Salvador and the other local aces in the $65,000 event.
“It will all be about driving and putting,” Salvador, who won by six shots over Antonio Lascuña last year, said in Filipino. “You need to hit it straight because the course is so tight.”
Lascuña will try to redeem himself from that second-place finish, and Jay Bayron will try to win the event for the third time.
But the most dangerous local in the field is Angelo Que, the multiple leg winner on the Asian Tour.
“Lift, clean and place” will be enforced for the first 36 holes after rains battered the course. And because of this, many in the field think that the winning score this year would be a lot higher than Salvador’s 6-under 282.
The club has also taken some sting out of the roughs, growing it to just two inches, unlike last year when it was double that. The course will also play to a regular par-72, unlike in the previous editions when the No. 11 played to a par-4 instead of a par-5.
Almost half of the 120-strong field are Filipinos, and the foreigners will be led by James Bowen of the United States, the winner of the Jakarta Classic over the weekend.
“I’m feeling great. I feel like my hard work is paying off,” said the 27-year-old Bowen, who is playing in the country for the first time. “The course is similar to that in Malaysia. I like my chances.”
Running second in the ADT Order of Merit, Bowen is eyeing no less than a Top 3 finish here to enhance his chances of earning a card for next year’s Asian Tour.
Scotland’s James Byrne and Japan’s Mitsuhiko Hashizume, the other leg winners this year, are also seeing action along with teen sensation Miguel Tabuena in the event sponsored by Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc. and backed by International Container Terminal Services Inc., Nike Golf, Srixon, Custom Clubmakers, Pacsports, Cleveland Golf, Callaway, Ping, Mizuno, Empire Golf and Sports Shop, Footjoy, Titleist, Sharp and BMW.