Unfazed by the Asian Tour regulars’ presence, Tony Lascuña acknowledges more the challenges of transitioning from a tight military course to the long, exacting The Country Club course, particularly wary of the younger players, whose length could spell the difference in the ICTSI The Country Club Match Play Invitational reeling off Tuesday in Laguna.
“I always see to it that I’m always ready for every tournament,” said the multi-titled Lascuña, who will turn 53 next month but remains one of the most-feared players on Tour. He overwhelmed young Keanu Jahns, 4&3, at Villamor Golf Club to rule the inaugural staging of the event that gathers the Top 32 players at the conclusion of this year’s Philippine Golf Tour at Mimosa Plus.
Lascuna plans to compensate for his perceived shortcoming in yardage with strategic use of his 3-wood and rescue clubs while emphasizing that putting will also play a crucial role in the tournament. But he recognizes the talent of his competitors, including Miguel Tabuena, Justin Quiban and Lloyd Go, who with veteran Angelo Que, are all vying in the head-to-head duels while the Asian Tour is on a break.
“The length (at TCC) will be my most challenge. The young ones will have the edge, for sure, but there are many ways to compensate for my shortness in yardage,” said Lascuna.
The only four-time OOM winner in the Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.-organized circuit also said his fellow PGT regulars are ready for a crack at the crown , including Jhonnel Ababa, who nailed his first OOM title with victories at Villamor-Philippine Masters and at Mimosa and posted a number of Top 10 finishes, Valley leg winner Reymon Jaraula, Bacolod stage champion Ira Alido and Rupert Zaragosa, who captured his first PGT win in runaway fashion in Iloilo.
Guido van der Valk also looms as the player to watch in the P2 million championship. Though he closed out the regular season without a title, blowing a couple of bids late in the circuit, the Dutchman remains a formidable force at TCC, having bested the field in the TCC Invitational, the flagship tournament of each PGT season, the last two years.
But in knockout duels where fortunes could shift at any given match and on a course that punishes even the slightest miscue, no one holds a distinct advantage among a mix of experienced an emerging talents, guaranteeing excitement and unpredictability to the tournament.
Others tipped to figure in the title hunt are former leg titlists Michael Bibat, Zanieboy Gialon, Jay Bayron, Elmer Salvador and Joenard Rates with legend Frankie Minoza also in the fold, along Mars Pucay, Albin Engino, Sean Ramos, Marvin Dumandan, Dino Villanueva, Nilo Salahog, Fidel Concepcion, Rico Depilo, Elee Bisera, Art Arbole, Gerald Rosales, Ferdie Aunzo and Koreans Min Seong Kim and Hyun Ho Rho.
Meanwhile, the P1.5 million Ladies PGT match play also braces for a thriller of a finish the way it was in its inaugural staging when Harmie Constantino rallied in regulation and edged top amateur Rianne Malixi in sudden death.
With victories at Luisita and Villamor, Constantino looks to score a repeat but a new set of rivals could emerge from among Florence Bisera, Mikha Fortuna and amateur Mafy Singson, along with Pamela Mariano, Chihiro Ikeda, Apple Fudolin, Gretchen Villacencio, Sarah Ababa, Korean Seoyun Kim, Rev Alcantara, Kristine Fleetwood, Lovelyn Guioguio, Eva Miñoza and Lucy Landicho and amateur Laurea Duque.