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Local aces seek to dominate PGT Apo Invit’l

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Jay Bayron

Jay Bayron

Davao’s homegrown talents, led by multi-tiled Tony Lascuña, Jay Bayron and Jhonnel Ababa, gear up for a showdown on a course where they honed their talent and skills when the P3 million ICTSI Apo Golf Invitational fires off tomorrow at the Apo Golf and Country Club.

“It’s nice to be back and play again at Apo. With all the young, talented players in the fold, it will be tough, but for sure, it will be fun,” said Lascuña, who ruled the last ICTSI Apo Golf Invitational in 2015, edging by Miguel Tabuena by one.

The sponsoring ICTSI and organizing Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. have lined up a seven-leg joust in the Visayas and Mindanao in the next three months that will also put in focus the top, championship courses in the regions. The provincial swing will also give the pros, a majority of which hail from the south, the chance to be with their respective families.

Meanwhile, Lascuña, Bayron, and Ababa lead the other select pros in today’s (Tuesday) pro-am tournament where they will be paired with amateur guests and officials of the event’s chief backers, including BDO, KZG, Custom Clubmakers, Meralco, Sharp, Champion, Summit Mineral Water and PLDT,

But this week’s battle for the top P550,000 purse could be narrowed down to a slew of Davaoeños, who are expected to cash in on their local knowledge of the hazard-laden course which hosted the Philippine Open in 1995 and which also gives stunning views of Mt. Apo.

But Lascuña has downplayed the homegrown talents’ edge in familiarity.

“The level of games now has improved, thus virtually eliminating the course familiarity factor,” said Lascuña, who nevertheless hopes to end a winless campaign this year at home.

Bayron, meanwhile, will be coming into the event brimming with confidence following his victory in the PGT Asia Manila Southwoods leg two weeks ago. Ababa, the winner of two PGTA tournaments last January, is also confident of his chances along with fellow Davaoeños Elmer Salvador, Mhark Fernando, Rufino Bayron, Marvin Dumandan, Ramil Bisera, Peter Villaber and Elmer Saban.

But a slew of foreign aces will be out to spoil their bid, including Dutch Guido Van der Valk, Americans Lexus Keoninh and Nicolas Paez, Peter Stojanovski of Macedonia, Lee Song and Park Jun Sung of Korea and Eiichiro Hiyama and Taisei Mochida of Japan.

Del Monte, on the other hand, will host the PGT fourth leg on June 27-30 for the ICTSI Del Monte Championship while Cagayan de Oro will stage the Pueblo de Oro Championship on July 4-7 at the Pueblo Oro Golf and Country Club.

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