Juvic Pagunsan heads to Marapara brimming with confidence coming off a runaway triumph in Murcia but the hometown hero isn’t banking on that momentum alone but vows to dish out his very best when the ICTSI Negros Occidental Classic is fired off Wednesday (June 19) at the Negros Occidental Golf and Country Club in Bacolod.
Not only is he eyeing a second straight championship in his return to the Philippine Golf Tour this season but also seeking to keep the crown he won via sudden death over Jobim Carlos last year.
“I always give my 100 percent in all my tournaments,” said Pagunsan after thumping a stellar field to rule the ICTSI Bacolod Golf Challenge in nearby Binitin over the weekend, stalking a slew of leaders in the first two days then wresting control with a third round 63 before coasting to a seven-stroke romp over Rufino Bayron with a 64.
That should make the smooth-swinging shotmaker, on a break from the Japan PGA Tour where he is based, the heavy favorite in the 105-player field chasing for top honors in the P3 million event serving as the third of the four-stage Visayan swing of the circuit put up by ICTSI.
But expect the rest to put the pressure on him early in a bid fuel their respective title drives and take whatever momentum and confidence Pagunsan has gained from last week’s triumph.
But one thing that could go against the rest of the bidders is that Pagunsan will be playing on a course so familiar and so dear to him, the NOGCC, otherwise known as Marapara, being the venue where he nurtured his game and where he won the national amateur title in 2006.
Still, Bayron along with Richard Sinfuego, Ira Alido, Tony Lascuña,Jhonnel Ababa, Michael Bibat, Jerson Balasabas, Jay Bayron, Reymon Jaraula, Keanu Jahns, James Ryan Lam, Mhark Fernando and Clyde Mondilla are going all out to stop Pagunsan in the 72-hole championship organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
The foreign bidders will also be pressing their bids early, particularly Spain’s Marcos Pastor, who is out to make up for his final round foldup in Murcia where he co-led in the middle rounds but succumbed to pressure playing alongside Pagunsan and Bayron and ended up sixth with a 71.
Dutch Guido Van der Valk, who stunned the elite field by posting a wire-to-wire triumph in Club Filipino de Cebu Invitational two weeks ago, is also tipped to contend again together with Aussie Fidel Concepcion, who made quite an impression by stringing four under par cards to finish solo fifth last week.
Meanwhile, a select cast of pros along with guests and officials of the event’s chief backers, including ICTSI, Custom Clubmakers, Meralco, Champion, Summit Mineral Water, K&G Golf Apparel, BDO, Sharp, KZG, PLDT and M.Y. Shokai Technology, Inc., test the hazard-laden, tree-lined layout in tomorrow’s traditional pro-am.