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Saturday, May 25, 2024

A test of iron play, putting as ICTSI Caliraya begins

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CAVINTI, Laguna—The ICTSI Caliraya Springs Championship blasts off today (Tuesday, April 9) at the Caliraya Springs Golf Club here with the stellar international field all eager to slug it out in an anticipated fierce battle on a course known for its unique features.

“Caliraya is a little bit of a combination of the two courses we played in Davao,” said Guido van der Valk, who finished second both in the Apo Golf Classic and the Rancho Palos Verdes Championship last month.

The Dutch golfer tied for 12th in last year’s edition of this event won by Tony Lascuña on an 18-under 270 total. But with a fine start to the new season, van der Valk looks to improve on his performance in the next four days of the P2.5 million championship.

“I’ve had a decent preparation this time around, so if I can get my green reading correct, it should be a nice week for me. I think Caliraya is more of a second shot course,” he added.

With its undulating terrains, water hazards and tricky surface, Caliraya Springs will indeed challenge the field’s iron play and strategic thinking, although players who excel in long, precise drives could also find success and produce low scores.

Lascuña, aiming to compensate for his shorter drive with skillful fairway wood and rescue shots, remains hopeful for a consecutive title after placing joint third at Apo and ending up 10th at Palos Verdes.

He acknowledges the stiff competition from a talented field that includes Jhonnel Ababa, Clyde Mondilla, Angelo Que, Ira Alido, Keanu Jahns and 2022 champion Zanieboy Gialon.

“The course is in great condition, so it’s all about who gets off to the best start,” said Lascuna

Ababa, on the other hand, is looking to bounce back after a less than stellar performance at Palos Verdes, where he ended in a tie for 25th following his playoff victory over van der Valk at Apo although he has faced some challenges in his preparation for this week’s tournament.

“My expectations are mixed, about 50-50. My swing hasn’t been great lately. But I think a score of 13- or 15-under could likely clinch the championship here,” said Ababa, revealing a cautious yet hopeful outlook towards the tournament.

Mondilla, a former Order of Merit winner, and Que, prepping up for the Saudi Open next week, are among those seeking redemption and momentum.

The break has seen many players honing their skills, ready to vie for the top P450,000 prize offered in the 72-hole c hampionship sponsored by ICTSI and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.

That should guarantee a highly competitive start and an exhilarating conclusion with the likes of Michael Bibat, Jay Bayron, Reymon Jaraula, Ira Alido, Dino Villanueva, Marvin Dumandan, Nilo Salahog and young guns Sean Ramos, Josh Jorge, Elee Bisera, Kristoffer Arevalo, Ryan Monsalve, Lanz Uy and Aidric Chan all going flat out to leave their mark.

Collin Wheeler and Gwon Minwook, who tied for fifth at Apo, lead the foreign challenge, along with Min Hyeok Yu, Fukuyama Kota, Daiya Suzuki, Kang Chonkoo and Tae Won Kim. Former PGT Q-School topnotcher Hyun Ho Rho is also among those hoping for a strong showing in the tournament supported by PGTI official apparel Kampfortis Golf.

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