Juvic in focus as PGT Negros begins
Juvic Pagunsan
Juvic in focus as PGT Negros begins
Dante Navarro (Philstar.com) - June 18, 2019 - 12:51pm

BACOLOD – Juvic Pagunsan has been used to being the hunted in a checkered golfing career. And being one again in the ICTSI Negros Occidental Classic firing off Wednesday doesn’t worry him a bit.

He gained that tag after dominating practically the same field he’s facing this week in the ICTSI Bacolod Golf Challenge in nearby Murcia last weekend. And having ruled this event last year and playing on a course he calls home make him all the more the favorite over an international field teeming with talent.

But the reticent shotmaker has made it a point to stay focused on every tournament and when he’s in the zone, he could be tough to handle.

“I always give my 100 percent and I take my game seriously all the time,” said Pagunsan, who drew Dutch Guido Van der Valk and Rufino Bayron in the featured 11:20 a.m. flight on No. 10.

The Japan PGA Tour-based shotmaker outwitted reigning PGT Order of Merit champion but absentee Jobim Carlos on the second playoff hole to reign here last year and the region’s former No. 1 marked his return to the local circuit with a seven-stroke romp over Bayron in Murcia.

That makes him the player to beat in the P3 million event sponsored by ICTSI with the smooth-swinging shotmaker expected to cash in on his local knowledge of the par-70 Marapara layout that features twisting fairways and a tough backside littered with water hazards and deceptive holes.

Still, the rest of the 105-player field, including 37 foreign aces, remain hopeful of foiling the hometown hero in the 72-hole championship serving as the third of the four-stage Visayan swing of the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.

Thais Kammalas Namuangruk and Tawan Phongphun, among the top placers in the recent PGT and PGT Asia Q-School for foreign players, are tipped to contend in the early going along with Aussie Fidel Concepcion, the best-placed foreigner at fifth in last week’s Bacolod, Spain’s Marcos Pastor, and Club Filipino de Cebu Invitational wire-to-wire winner Van der Valk.

Former PGT Asia leg champion David Gleeson, also from Down Under, is also among those seen to have the skills and talent to spoil Pagunsan’s repeat bid along with fellow invitees Colombia’s Mateo Gomez and Sebastian Lopez, Englishman George Twyman, Aussies Jack Sullivan and Swede Sebastian Hansson.

A slew of local aces are also raring to slug it out for top honors worth a whopping P550,000, including former champions Frankie Miñoza (2016), Tony Lascuña (2014) and Zanieboy Gialon (2012).

Clyde Mondilla, who came out of a six-week layoff due to injury and tied for 10th in Murcia, is also expected to have settled down with his game and will be among those seen to be in the early mix along with Jay Bayron, Richard Sinfuego, Ira Alido, Jhonnel Ababa, Michael Bibat, Jerson Balasabas and Rufino Bayron.

Others expected to contend in the event backed by Custom Clubmakers, Meralco, Champion, Summit Mineral Water, K&G Golf Apparel, BDO, Sharp, KZG, PLDT and M.Y. Shokai Technology, Inc. are Elmer Salvador, Mhark Fernando, Nilo Salahog, Keanu Jahns, James Ryan Lam, Johvanie Abaño, Marvin Dumandan, Reymon Jaraula and another local hero and veteran Robert Pactolerin.

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