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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Pros brace for birdie-spree as ICTSI Mimosa unfolds

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CLARK Freeport Zone—The men of the tour set out for a power duel at Mimosa Plus’ Acacia course with majority almost effusive in talking about its fine condition and the chances of a four-day hunt for birdies in the ICTSI Mimosa Plus Championship, which fires off Tuesday here in Pampanga.

As the pros continue to hit the ball to ever-increasing distances, the par-72, 6,508-yard layout could be theirs for the taking although their unfamiliarity with Acacia could provide barriers to success in the P2 million championship serving as the 10th leg of this year’s Philippine Golf Tour season.

“Kailangan maganda ang driving at putting,” said Reymon Jaraula, one of the four aces in the fold who are gunning for a second victory in the season about to end, the three others being Tony Lascuña, Rupert Zaragosa and Jhonnel Ababa.

“Short course ito kaya kailangan mag-click din ang short game,” added the runaway winner at Valley last June after yesterday’s traditional pro-am tournament.

“The course is in tip-top condition,” said Zaragosa, who also dominated the Iloilo leg for his breakthrough PGT victory last March. “Siguro ang edge dito, pag gumana ang putting. Kasi dito, paramihan ng birdie.”

Jaraula and Zaragosa test each other in the 8 a.m. on No. 1 in one of featured flights that includes Taiwanese Ting Yu Chen, an invitee of the organizing Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. from the PGA Tour of Taiwan.

Ababa, who snapped a long title drought with a thrilling victory at Villamor Philippine Masters last May, drew Elmer Salvador and Art Arbole in the 7:40 a.m. group, also on the first hole, with Lascuña, who dominated the Caliraya Springs leg, teeing off next at 7:50 a.m. in the company of Dino Villanueva and Albin Engino.

“Maganda ang course, pero tingin ko, sa putting magßkakatalo,” said Lascuña, a four-time winner of the PGT Order of Merit title.

But the leader—and the eventual winner—could emerge from any of the rest of the 55-player field, including Marvin Dumandan, who squandered a chance to end a long title spell at South Pacific in Davao last week.

Nilo Salahog, who showed the way in the first 36 holes at South Pacific, is also all fired-up to get going again and sustain his charge to the finish. He starts at 7:20 a.m. in the company of noted big-hitters Keanu Jahns and Dumandan.

Guido van der Valk, still in search of the form that netted him The Country Club Invitational diadem for the second straight year, likewise looks for a strong start in the 7:30 a.m. group that includes former leg winner Zanieboy Gialon and journeyman Rico Depilo.

The young guns are also eager to fuel their respective bids for a maiden win in the 72-hole championship put up by ICTSI and supported by PGTI official apparel Kampfortis Golf, including Sean Ramos, Elee Bisera, Korean Hyun Ho Rho, Gabriel Manotoc, Josh Jorge, Kristoffer Arevalo and Russell Bautista.

The foreign bets are also keen on making an impact, including comeback Japanese and former leg winner Toru Nakajima and Koreans Seong Guk Kim, Chonkoo Kang, Hwan Lee, Kim Minseong and Chen.

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