Power-hitting Aussie seeks Aboitiz repeat

    HE’S BACK: A different kind of challenge awaits Damien Jordan and company at Wack Wack’s East course.
    HE’S BACK: A different kind of challenge awaits Damien Jordan and company at Wack Wack’s East course.

    BIG-HITTING Damien Jordan returns in pursuit of a second Philippine Golf Tour Asia championship, seeking to become only the second player to score back-to-back victories in the ninth Aboitiz Invitational teeing off this Wednesday at Wack Wack’s East Course in Mandaluyong City.

    Jordan set some sort of a record by becoming the first foreign player to rule the annual event organized by Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Inc. in wire-to-wire fashion, beating Thai Namchok Tantipokhakul by four to likewise nail his first PGTA crown at Orchard’s Palmer course last year.

    With the event back at one of the country’s toughest courses, Jordan will need more than his power to confront the challenges lurking at every corner of Wack Wack’s fabled layout, whose narrow fairways puts premier on accuracy more than length, especially if the wind comes into play.

    That could set the stage for four days of battle of wits among a crack roster of 108 bidders from at least 18 nations in the $100,000 event serving as the fourth leg of the third season of the region’s emerging circuit put up by ICTSI.

    Tantipokhakul and Wisut Artjanawat swept the first two PGTA legs at Luisita and Taiwan, respectively, with absentee Angelo Que prevailing at Southwoods last July with the Thai duo, like Jordan, all fired up in their respective title drive in the 72-hole championship organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.

    Jay Bayron spearheads the local challenge with the veteran Davao campaigner targeting two feats this week – reclaiming the crown he won when the event was first held at Wack Wack in 2016 and seeking a record third Aboitiz Invitational title.

    Bayron topped the inaugural event in its home base in Cebu in 2011 with fellow Davao bet Elmer Salvador posting the first back-to-back wins, also in Cebu, in 2012-13 although the latter’s game took a downswing in the last few years.

    Tony Lascuña beat Que by three at Riviera in 2014, and Japan-based Pagunsan, in one of his then rare appearances on the local circuit, dominated the field at Manila Southwoods in 2015 then Miguel Tabuena edged Que by one in 2017.