Foiled twice at Luisita and Caliraya, Clyde Mondilla hopes to get the job done at Splendido, eager to make up for his failed bids in the first two legs of this year’s Philippine Golf Tour when the ICTSI Splendido Taal Challenge is unwrapped on Tuesday (May 24) in Laurel, Batangas.
Mondilla rallied from out of nowhere to force a playoff with Miguel Tabuena but lost on the second playoff hole in the ICTSI Luisita Championship last March. The 2019 Philippine Open champion also charged back in the final round of the ICTSI Caliraya Springs Championship but his closing 67 proved short to stop Zanieboy Gialon last month.
But those setbacks are expected to further toughen up the amiable Del Monte ace, who emerged triumphant last in a five-player playoff, the most crowded playoff cast in PGT history, at Pradera Verde in Jan, 2020, heading to the invitational championship at the exacting Splendido Taal Golf Club layout.
The rest of the 60-player field, however, are also all geared up for the title chase in the 72-hole tournament, including Gialon, Michael Bibat, Jhonnel Ababa, Tony Lascuña, Joenard Rates, Ruperto Zaragosa and Reymon Jaraula, among others.
While length could hold the key to victory in this third leg of the PGT organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc., premium will also be on ball control and putting with the fairways softened by rain the last few days.
That should make the race wide-open race the likes of Bibat, Rates, Ababa and Lascuña also setting out to snap a title spell, thus guaranteeing another fierce battle that has marked the first two stops of the country’s premier circuit put up by ICTSI.
The month-long break has also given Mondilla and company time to hone up and make the necessary adjustments to their respective games, particularly the former leg winners who could not seem to get their games going at Luisita and Caliraya.
They include Jobim Carlos, Jay Bayron, Anthony Fernando, Orlan Sumcad, Mars Pucay, Rufino Bayron, Marvin Dumandan, Richard Sinfuego, Jun Bernis, Gerald Rosales, Arnold Villacencio, Nilo Salahog, Mhark Fernando and former Masters titlist Jerson Balasabas.
The event also marks the third time that the PGT will be held simultaneously with the Ladies PGT with Chihiro Ikeda shooting for a follow-up to her three-shot victory over Chanelle Avaricio at Mount Malarayat two weeks ago in their side of the 54-hole championship.