The men of the Philippine Golf Tour brace for a grueling campaign in Visayas and Mindanao as the organizing Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. lined up a seven-leg swing spread over the next three months in various championship courses with each leg offering P3 million in total prize.
The quaint Apo Golf and Country Club in Davao will host the kickoff leg, actually the third stop of this year’s PGT after the ICTSI Eagle Ridge Challenge and the ICTSI Villamor Philippine Masters, on June 20 to 23 with current Order of Merit leader and PGT Eagle Ridge leg winner Guido Van der Valk of the Netherlands leading the stellar cast in the ICTSI Apo Golf Invitational.
The challenging Del Monte layout in Bukidnon will stage the next leg on June 27-30 for the ICTSI Del Monte Championship before action shifts to Cagayan de Oro for the Pueblo de Oro Championship on July 4-7 at the Pueblo Oro Golf and Country Club.
Visayas will stage the next four tournaments beginning with the Bacolod Golf Championships on Aug. 8-11 at the Bacolod Golf and Country Club with the ICTSI Negros Occidental Classic hosting the next stop on August 15 to 18 at the Negros Occidental Classic at the NOGCC also known as the Marapara course.
The ICTSI Iloilo Golf Challenge, meanwhile, will be held on August 22 to 25 before the Vis-Min swing winds up at the Cebu Country Club for the ICTSI Cebu Invitational on Aug. 29-Sept. 1.
The PGT last held a tournament in Visayas in 2016 with golf legend Frankie Miñoza edging Miguel Tabuena in a classic five-hole playoff to snare the Negros Occidental Classic crown.
Bringing the circuit back to Visayas and Mindanao should put in focus the two regions’ top courses, all expected to pose a stern test of golf for the men of the tour. It is also held as part of PGT’s effort to help boost golf tourism in the country.
Joining Van der Valk in the early Apo roster are reigning Philippine Masters champion Jerson Balasabas, Jobim Carlos, who scored a breakthrough at PGT Asia Riviera last month and recent PGTA Southwoods leg champion Jay Bayron.
Reigning PGT OOM winner Clyde Mondilla is also in the fold and raring to end a long slump in the circuit, backed by BDO, KZG, Custom Clubmakers, Meralco, Sharp, Champion, Summit Mineral Water and PLDT, he dominated with four victories last year.
Also vying for the top P550,000 purse are multi-titled winner Tony Lascuña, PGTA two-leg titlist Jhonnel Ababa, along with veteran campaigners Mars Pucay, Michael Bibat, Zanieboy Gialon, Elmer Salvador, Orlan Sumcad, Rey Pagunsan and Robert Pactolerin.
Other foreign entries expected to join the title hunt are Americans Nicolas Paez, Dino Giacomazi, Lexus Keoninh and Pete Vilairatana, Macedonian Peter Stojanovski, Koreans Lee Song, Jisu Song, Park Jun Song, Kim Joo Hyung, Kim Sung Wook and Lee Hyun Jun, Japanese Eiichiro Hiyama, Taisei Mochida, Issei Mori, Rio Mori and Hiruyuki Ono, and Canadian Lindsey Renolds.