Angelo Que and Juvic Pagunsan, in a private race for the first to win the rich The Country Club Invitational a record four times, head the elite 36-player field in sampling the exclusive, Sta. Rosa, Laguna, layout in today’s traditional pro-am.
The winner of two of the last three editions of the event, Que sets out to bounce back from a fourth-place finish to Pagunsan last year, even as Antonio Lascuña looms as a solid outside bet to win his second title here.
Lascuña was the best Filipino pro here and abroad, winning the local ICTSI Order of Merit title and winding up in 12th spot in the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit race.
The dusky 42-year-old from Davao will also come into the P5-million event still fresh off his triumph at the Sabah Masters last month. He fought back from five strokes down in the final round to pip reigning Philippine Open champion Mardan Mamat of Singapore.
Former Philippine Open champion Elmer Salvador is another bet due for a big win. He was second to Pagunsan last year and was also the runner-up to Que in 2007, when he blew a final-round lead.
But the focus will undoubtedly be on the Que-Pagunsan rivalry and both have the long games to conquer the winds of the Country Club layout.
Que won in 2007 before prevailing again for two straight years from 2010. But he was never in solid contention last year after taking care of wife Tracy, who gave birth to their first child, before the tournament.
Only the top 36 players in last year’s ICTSI OOM make up this year’s field, which will play in honor of ICTSI founder Enrique “Don Pocholo” Razon Sr. for the 11th straight year.
Former champions Cassius Casas (2003), Jerome Delariarte (2005) and Artemio Murakami (2009) are also in the field together with Zanie Boy Gialon, Miguel Tabuena, Charles Hong, Marvin Dumandan, Carl Santos-Ocampo and Salvador.
Others in the field: Jhonnel Ababa, Jun Bernis, Jay Bayron, Elmer Saban, Clyde Mondilla, Mhark Fernando, Rufino Bayron, Mars Pucay, Richard Sinfuego, Randy Garalde, Michael Bibat, Ferdie Aunzo, James Ryan Lam, Orlan Sumcad, Joenard Rates, Benjie Magada, Christopher delos Santos, Arnold Villavicencio, Rey Pagunsan, Anthony Fernando, Frankie Miñoza.