MANILA, Philippines - The $65,000 Aboitiz Invitational Presented by ICTSI unfolding Wednesday at the Cebu Country Club will kick off a two-week swing of top-notch golfing action in the country with the ICTSI Orchard Golf Championship slated next week at the Orchard in Dasmariñas, Cavite.
The stellar field fighting it out for top honors in Cebu will all be around when the Orchard event makes its debut on the fledgling Asian Development Tour, a farm league of the Asian Tour, on Aug. 15 offering a total prize of $60,000.
“The Asian Tour has played a big role in the development of golf in the Philippines and it is our goal to give the upcoming players an opportunity to enhance their talent on the ADT platform,” said Ricky Razon, chairman and president of the International Container Terminal Services, Inc.
The addition of the ICTSI Orchard Golf Championship thus raised the tally on the ADT to a record of 12 events this year with the burgeoning circuit making stops in Malaysia, Indonesia, Chinese Taipei and the Philippines.
The top three players after the 12-leg ADT circuit will earn Asian Tour cards next year.
Meanwhile, Frankie Miñoza has joined the hunt for the top $11,375 purse in the Aboitiz Invitational, ensuring a strong local challenge in the event, sponsored by Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Inc., which also serves as the ninth leg of the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour.
Miñoza, seeking a follow-up to his victory at ICTSI Wack Wack Championship last December, hopes to contend for the crown currently held by Jay Bayron with a slew of local talents also fancied to join the title chase in the blue-ribbon four-day championship.
They include current local Order of Merit frontrunner Tony Lascuna and ICTSI PGT leg winners Miguel Tabuena, Marvin Dumandan, Elmer Salvador, Zanie Boy Gialon and Mars Pucay and former three-time Asian Tour leg winner and Philippine Open champion Angelo Que.
But they will be up against a talent-laden foreign cast, headed by ADT OOM leader Ryan Bulloch of Australia, Englishman Peter Richardson, and Luke Bleumink and Anthony Choat, also from Down Under, Hsu Chia Jen of Chinese Taipei and Jeremiah Kim of Malaysia.
Bayron will actually be the marked man in the event he has ruled the last two years with the power-hitting Davaoeño shotmaker boosting his bid with a stirring come-from-behind victory in the last ADT leg – the Maybank Challenge – last month.
“I’ve been playing well recently and I hope I can continue my form,” said Bayron, currently No. 2 in the ADT OOM derby. “But it won’t be easy since there are many talented players in the fold.”
Other backers of the event are Empire Golf, Titleist, Footjoy, Callaway, TaylorMade, Mizuno, Srixon, Nike Golf, Custom Clubmakers and Sharp.