MANILA, Philippines - Juvic Pagunsan takes a break from his Japan PGA Tour campaign to join the local aces in their hunt for the crown in the P1 million ICTSI Calatagan Challenge which fires off tomorrow at the Calatagan Golf Club in Batangas.
Pagunsan is coming off a joint fourth place finish in the Tsuruya Open in Hyogo two weeks ago and battled from the brink of elimination to finish joint 21st with a final round four-under 66 in The Crowns in Aichi last Sunday.
That makes the former Asian Tour No. 1, who raked in earnings of P2.5 million for that two-week campaign, the marked player in the third leg of the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour which stakes a top purse of P200,000.
But Pagunsan will be facing a slew of rivals fired up by individual desires to nail down the Calatagan crown, including Miguel Tabuena, out to redeem himself from a playoff loss to Jay Bayron at ICTSI Camp John Hay Championship two weeks ago in a tournament he dominated majority of the way.
There is also Mhark Fernando, seeking to end a long title drought he snapped when he ruled this event last year, along with title hungry Rufino Bayron, Jhonnel Ababa, Ferdie Aunzo, Michael Bibat, Marvin Dumandan, Cassius Casas, Gerald Rosales, Artemio Murakami and Richard Sinfuego.
Rey Pagunsan, who set a record 10-under 58 in the final round at John Hay, also hopes to keep the momentum of his sizzling finish as he tries to end a long slump on the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Tabuena, Ababa and the other leading pros test the par-72 layout today in the traditional pro-am tournament where they will be paired with the amateur guests from the sponsoring ICTSI and the event’s other backers, including Nike Golf, Empire Golf and Sports Shop, Mizuno, Titleist, Srixon, Foot Joy, Callaway, Pacsports, Custom Clubmakers, Cleveland Golf and Sharp.
Others tipped to contend for the crown in the 54-hole tournament, backed by the event’s media partners Balls, Studio 23 and Pinoygolfer.com are Mars Pucay, Clyde Mondilla, Carl Santos-Ocampo, Charles Hong, Zanie Boy Gialon, Jun Bernis, Anthony Fernando, Edward Reyes and Dutch Guido Van der Valk.
The tournament also serves as a tune-up for the ICTSI Orchard Golf Championship, another four-day, P2.5 million championship slated May 22-25.
After the duel, pitting the top players from the north and south in a Ryder Cup-style clash at Alabang on June 3-7, the circuit swings to the south for the ICTSI Rancho Palos Verdes Classic on June 26-28, the ICTSI Del Monte Championship on July 3-5 and the ICTSI Pueblo de Oro Championship on July 10-12.