REIGNING Asian Tour No. 1 Juvic Pagunsan signed up for the ICTSI Wack Wack Championship, completing a stellar cast in the P2.5 million event firing off Dec. 19 at Wack Wack’s East course.
Pagunsan is seeking to end a winless season here and abroad although the 34-year-old ace shotmaker came through with a pair of runner-up finishes in the year about to end, including in the Japan Open on the Japan PGA Tour and in the Queen’s Cup of the Asian Tour. He also had three fourth-place finishes.
That makes the upcoming event doubly important for the title-hungry Pagunsan, who will be up against the best and upcoming stars of local pro golf, including ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour Order of Merit frontrunner Tony Lascuña.
The next four players in the OOM race—Elmer Salvador, Zanie Boy Gialon, Miguel Tabuena and Jay Bayron, who won this year’s OOM crown on the Asian Development Tour—are also in the fold, ensuring a battle royale in the 72-hole championship closing out the 15-stage circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments Inc.
Pagunsan won four PGT legs last year to run away with the OOM crown, capping a sterling season with a runner-up finish in the Singapore Open that netted him the coveted Asian Tour’s top plum.
But in five times that he saw action on the local circuit this year, Pagunsan could only post a best joint seventh finish at ICTSI Eastridge last June before joining the lucrative Japan PGA circuit.
Frankie Miñoza is also out to defend the crown he won in stirring come-from-behind fashion last year where the former two-time Philippine Open champion charged back from seven strokes down to beat Elmer Saban and Rufino Bayron.
Others tipped to crowd the favorites for the top P450,000 purse in the event sponsored by International Container Terminal Services Inc., are Asian Tour regulars Angelo Que, Mars Pucay and Artemio Murakami along with young turks Charles Hong and Carl Santos-Ocampo.
Pagunsan and the other leading pros test the tough layout in the pro-am tournament on Dec. 18 as they team up with officials and guests of the event’s chief backers Empire Golf, Titleist, Footjoy, Callaway, TaylorMade, Mizuno, Srixon, Nike Golf, Custom Clubmakers and Sharp.
Also seeing action in the event, backed by Balls, Studio 23, Pinoygolfer.com and Inquirer Golf as media partners, are Jonel Ababa, Ferdie Aunzo, Jun Bernis, Jerson Balasabas, Cassius Casas and Anthony Fernando.