NINE years after it last staged the Philippine Golf Tour, the Valley Golf South is back as host of the country’s premier circuit, ready to provide a stern test to the men of the tour in the ICTSI Valley Golf Challenge beginning June 6 in Antipolo, Rizal.
Tony Lascuña dominated the field in the 2014 Tour edition, beating Jhonnel Ababa by seven but the organizing Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. has not made any stop at Valley since before it held the first Ladies PGT tournament, which top amateur Rianne Malixi dominated, last year.
The rolling Valley Golf South layout actually served as the Tour’s first venue during its four-leg inaugurals in 2009 with Jay Bayron emerging on top of the ICTSI-backed championship.
The upcoming P2 million tournament will be the sixth leg of this year’s circuit following a two-leg Visayan swing in Bacolod and Iloilo, the Caliraya Springs leg in Cavinti, Laguna, the Luisita Championship in Tarlac and the ICTSI Villamor Philippine Masters at Villamor last week.
Ababa ended a long title spell with a come-from-behind victory over Joenard Rates and Dutch Guido van der Valk in a fierce PH Masters battle that went all the way to the final hole with the same unpredictable finish expected at Valley, kept in championship form all-season long, which features narrow, rolling terrains, winding streams and sleek putting surface.
A down-to-the-wire battle is also seen in the LPGT side of the tournament with Harmie Constantino targeting a third straight victory after pulling off a pair of explosive rallies at Luisita and Villamor.
Meanwhile, a select crew of pros in both the men’s and ladies’ sides get the chance to test the par-72 South course in the traditional pro-am tournament on Monday (June 5).
Lascuña, who skipped the PH Masters to compete in Taiwan, is expected to be back at Valley, along with last week’s absentees Clyde Mondilla, Lloyd Go and Angelo Que, among others.
That should all the more firm up the Valley roster, led by Ababa, Rates and van der Valk with the likes of Bayron, Keanu Jahns, Reymon Jaraula, Fidel Concepcion, Nilo Salahog, Marvin Dumandan and Frankie Miñoza and Koreans Min Seong Kim and Hyun Ho Rho all expecting to contend for the championship.
Out to halt Constantino’s run in their side of the battle are Chihiro Ikeda, Daniella Uy, Sarah Ababa, Pamela Mariano, Florence Bisera, Gretchen Villacencio, Monica Mandario, Rev Alcantara and Korean Seoyun Kim.