Mondilla marked in Lipa

In Photo: Zanieboy Gialon (right) and Jhonnel Ababa are two of the players to watch.

THE Philippine Golf Tour (PGT) winds up its 2017 season with the International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI) Players Championship beginning today at the Summit Point Golf Club in Lipa City.

The focus is on Clyde Mondilla and a slew of local players out to foil the virtual Order of Merit (OOM) champion and improve on their respective OOM rankings.

Mondilla, winner of three tournaments this year, including the ICTSI Rivera Classic of the PGT Asia Tour two weeks ago, slugs it out with Zanieboy Gialon and Jhonnel Ababa in the 7:30 a.m. flight on No. 1, relieved of the pressure of gutting it out in the final PGT leg for a first OOM crown.

With three of the country’s leading players in the OOM Top 4 list out for this week’s P3-million event sponsored by ICTSI, Mondilla is a cinch for the coveted individual title with P2,606,409 in earnings with the fifth-running Ababa and No. 6 Gialon too far behind with P1,585,345 and P1,223,572, respectively.

But the Del Monte ace vowed to go all the way in the event, which stakes P550,000 prize to the winner, in a bid to boost his confidence for the PGT Asia circuit, which resumes in November with two $100,000 tournaments.

That also goes with the rest of the elite 75-player field, ensuring a spirited battle for top honors at the par-72 Robert Trent Jones Jr.-designed layout which features replicas of 18 renowned golf holes in the world.

“Clyde has the edge on long courses because of his power. But at Summit Point, we’re pretty even off the tee, so I think it will boil down to who putts well in the end,” said Gialon, seeking a follow-up to his runaway victory at ICTSI Calatagan last June.

Tony Lascuña, Miguel Tabuena and Angelo Que, the next three players behind Mondilla in the OOM ranking, will not be around this week with Lascuña and Tabuena competing in the Taiwan Masters and Que vying in the Japan PGA Tour.

Jay Bayron, winner here in 2015 and No. 9 in the OOM, is also tipped to contend for the crown as he sets out with No. 8 Michael Bibat and recent PGTA ICTSI Splendido leg winner and No. 7 Rene Menor at 7:10 a.m., also on the first hole while Arnold Villacencio also hopes to relive his memories on the course where he scored his breakthrough win in 2014.

Villacencio will start at 7:40 a.m. in the company of Omar Dungca and young gun Keanu Jahns, also on No. 1.

Others expected to crowd Mondilla and the fancied bets are Mhark Fernando, Jobim Carlos, Rufino Bayron, Jessie Balasabas, Justin Quiban, Orlan Sumcad, Ira Alido, Jun Bernis, Marvin Dumandan, Elmer Salvador, Ferdie Aunzo and Mars Pucay.

Also out to spoil the locals’ title drive in the event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments Inc. and backed by Custom Clubmakers, Meralco, Champion, Summit Mineral Water, K&G Golf Apparel, BDO, Sharp, KZG, PLDT and MY Shokai Technology Inc. are a host of foreign aces, led by Americans Elliot Hume and Lexus Keoninh and Koreans Hwang Myung Chal, Kim Jun Sik, Park Jun Sung and Lee Hyeon Tae, Australians Nathan Park and Ian Tonumaipe’a, Japanese Seiji Yanagisawa and Dutch Guido Van der Valk.