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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Chase is on as PH Villamor Masters unfolds

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THE ICTSI Villamor Philippine Masters unwraps today (Wednesday) with a highly anticipated showdown at the spruced-up Villamor Golf Club. Defending champion Jhonnel Ababa aims for a consecutive title, while Guido van der Valk seeks redemption and both Clyde Mondilla and Lloyd Go are determined to secure their second victories on the Philippine Golf Tour.

This year’s tournament, held on the tight and demanding layout, emphasizes precision and accuracy over sheer power. The key to success lies in hitting the fairways and allowing the irons and wedges to set up scoring opportunities.

Last year, Ababa narrowly edged out van der Valk and Joenard Rates by a single stroke, showcasing the level of competition on a course that requires strategic thinking.

“The course is tight, so hitting it straight and staying in the fairway is crucial,” said van der Valk, a two-time runner-up here. “Driving accuracy will be the key to creating birdie chances and avoiding trouble.”

The Dutchman is eager to turn the tables and clinch the title, underscoring the importance of a strong tee game to stay in contention.

Tony Lascuña, a four-time PGT Order of Merit winner, echoed the sentiment, highlighting the challenge of the military layout’s softened fairways and tricky greens.

“The course is long and the fairways are soft due to recent rains,” said Lascuna, predicting that a 7-under overall score will win the championship. “The greens are also slow, adding another layer of difficulty.”

A fierce competition is expected in all four days as a wave of talented professionals, including 2017 champion Clyde Mondilla and Lloyd Go, are ready to vie for top honors.

Mondilla, fresh from a dominant win at Caliraya Springs, has sharpened his skills and gained valuable experience from a recent stint in Japan.

Go, having secured a breakthrough win at Palos Verdes and a strong performance in Japan’s Abema Tour, is eager to leverage his form and lessons learned on the international stage.

The 72-hole championship, organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. and supported by PGTI official apparel Kampfortis Golf, promises a spirited battle of wits and mental toughness. With no clear favorite, the tournament’s outcome will hinge on each contender’s ability to navigate the narrow fairways and execute precise approach shots. This ensures an exciting and unpredictable contest on a course that continues to undergo a facelift.

Angelo Que is also aiming to break a long title drought, bringing a familiar game plan shared by many in the field: “Hit a lot of fairways and get more scoring chances.”

With impressive finishes on the Asian Development Tour recently, the three-time Asian Tour winner said: “My confidence is not as high as I want it to be, but it’s there.”

A slew of international players also add flair to the high-caliber roster, including Toru Nakajima, Ozeki Kakery, Gwon Minwook, Daiya Suzuki, Kang Chonkoo, Collin Wheeler and Tae Won Kim, who all seek to make their mark.

Among the local aces tipped to contend are Rupert Zaragosa, Reymon Jaraula, Michael Bibat, Zanieboy Gialon, Jay Bayron, Marvin Dumandan, Keanu Jahns and 2018 winner Jerson Balasabas. Additionally, young talents such as Aidric Chan, Kristoffer Arevalo, Sean Ramos and Hyun Ho Rho are poised to challenge the seasoned campaigners.

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