THAIS Namchok Tantipokhakul and Wisut Artjanawat rejoin the chase for a Philippine Golf Tour Asia crown, eyeing no less than a second championship in the $100,000 ICTSI Summit Point World 18 Challenge teeing off this Wednesday at the Summit Point Golf and Country Club in Lipa City, Batangas.
Tantipokhakul and Artjanawat missed last week’s CAT Open at Luisita won by Aussie Tim Stewart via playoff but are coming into this week’s event motivated by desire to emerge as the only two-leg winner at the close of the third season of Asia’s rising circuit put up by ICTSI.
Tantipokhakul rallied and nipped Finland’s Teemu Putkonen by one to rule this year’s PGT Asia kickoff leg at Luisita last April while Artjanawat topped the first PGTA event abroad, also in come-from-behind fashion in Taiwan last May.
They are just two of the hundred top guns all primed up for the 72-hole championship, including Tony Lascuña, winner of the second PGTA tournament, also in Taiwan last month, and last year’s champion Joenard Rates, who edged Janne Kaske, also of Finland, in sudden death.
Reigning PGTA Order of Merit winner Clyde Mondilla is also all geared up for a crack at the crown after falling short of his own rally in last week’s CAT Open where he battled back from six down to force a playoff, only to waver in sudden death that enabled Stewart to join the elite circuit of winners in the circuit put up to provide pros from the Philippines, Asia and other parts of the world another venue on which to play and at the same time complement each country’s national golf tour and the other existing regional circuits.
Jhonnel Ababa also sets out to avoid a winless campaign this year after racking up four titles in the first two seasons of the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
A select number of pros test the Robert Trent Jones Jr.-designed layout featuring 18 of the world’s most popular golf holes in today’s pro-am tournament where they will be paired with guests and officials of the event’s chief backers, including ICTSI, PLDT Enterprise, Meralco, BDO and PGT Asia official apparel Pin High.
Other PGT Asia winners in the fold are Jay Bayron, Jobim Carlos, James Ryan Lam, and Aussies David Gleeson and Damien Jordan while beefing up the stellar international cast are Peter Stojanovski of Macedonia, Joshua Salah, Brett Munson and Lexus Keoninh of the US, Korean-American Micah Shin and Dutch Guido Van der Valk.
Joining Rates, Lascuña and Mondilla as spearheads of the local challenge are Ira Alido, Michael Bibat, Keanu Jahns, Elmer Salvador, Jerson Balasabas, Reymon Jaraula, Rufino Bayron, Zanieboy Gialon and former PGT Asia leg winner Justin Quiban.
Backing Tantipokhakul and Artjanawat in the Thai contingent are Pasavee Lertvilai, Chonlatit Chuenboonngam, Sutijet Kooratapisan, Donlapatchai Niyomchon, Kammalas Namuangruk, Natthapong Niyomchon, Puk Pradittan, Wongsakorn Choowong.