Ababa seeks to end slump, keep crown
MANILA, Philippines - Jhonnel Ababa hopes to re-discover his form on a course he calls home as he tries to snap out of a season-long drought on the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour which resumes Oct. 24 at the Calatagan Golf and Country Club in Batangas.
Ababa beat Tony Lascuña and Mhark Fernando by six to rule last year’s Calatagan stage that capped his three-leg victory in a successful season that also netted him the Player of the Year honors.
But the former amateur hotshot had a struggling campaign this year, his joint third place in Iloilo, where he scored his breakthrough win last year, proving his best so far with three legs left in the 15-stage circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
But he remained confident of his chances in the upcoming 54-hole tournament although Ababa, down in No. 20 on the current ICTSI PGT Order of Merit rankings, will be up against an equally hungry field hunting for a victory following a month-long break on the country’s premier pro tour put up by International Container Terminal Services, Inc.
For one, Elmer Salvador is back in the fold after trying his luck on the Asian Tour along with Charles Hong and Carl Santos Ocampo, who scored their maiden victories in the circuit’s last two legs at Pueblo de Oro and Ranchos Palos Verdes.
Others tipped to figure in the chase for the top P200,000 purse are Ferdie Aunzo, Jerson Balasabas, Rufino Bayron, Jun Bernis, Michael Bibat, Marvin Dumandan, Mhark Fernando, Anthony Fernando, Artemio Murakami, Elmer Saban, Gerald Rosales and Richard Sinfuego.
Meanwhile, the leading pros get the chance to test Tuesday the up-and-down layout in the traditional pro-am tournament which also features officials and guests of the circuit’s chief backers, including Empire Golf, Titleist, Footjoy, Callaway, TaylorMade, Mizuno, Srixon, Nike Golf, Custom Clubmakers and Sharp with Balls, Studio 23, Pinoygolfer.com and Inquirer Golf as media partners.
From Batangas, the circuit moves to Canlubang for the penultimate leg in the ICTSI Canlubang Golf Invitational then winds up again at Wack Wack for the rich P2.5 million ICTSI Wack Wack Championship, a 72-hole tournament which Frankie Miñoza ruled in grand come-from-behind fashion to close out the season.