Clyde Mondilla
Mondilla to buck injury, field in pursuit of TCC crown
Dante Navarro ( - February 28, 2020 - 3:55pm

MANILA, Philippines — Clyde Mondilla suffered a knee injury while priming up for The Country Club Invitational, a setback he, however, hopes to flout when the P5 million championship is fired off March 4 at the TCC layout in Laguna.

It also has failed to slow down the Del Monte star, who has spent the last three weeks fine-tuning his driving and short game in preparation for what looms to be a slam-bang duel of power and iron play against a select cast making up the Top 30 players in the last year’s Philippine Golf Tour Order of Merit ranking.

Mondilla actually kicked off the new season with a stirring victory in the PGT Asia at Pradera Verde last month, rallying from five down in regulation and coming out triumphant of the most crowded playoff battle (five) in PGT and PGTA history. But heading to the event, he said he would need more than momentum given an elite roster of rivals and a dreaded course.

“I sprained my knee last Tuesday but I still like my chances although it isn’t that great since there are so many strong players around,” said Mondilla, who also humbled a stellar international field to win the Solaire Philippine Open, also at TCC, last year with a two-over total. “The course is also very challenging, tough.”

He said the big hitters have the slight edge at the Tom Weiskoph-designed layout although he stressed a lot of factors will also have to be considered owing to the course’s hazards, roughs and sleek putting surface with the wind also likely to come into play in all four days of the event put up by ICTSI president/chairman Ricky Razon to honor the memory of his father and ICTSI founder Don Pocholo.

That should give the likes of veterans Jay Bayron, Jhonnel Ababa, Michael Bibat and Jerson Balasabas and young turks Ira Alido, James Ryan Lam and Reymon Jaraula some kind of an edge along with American Lexus Keoninh and Marcos Pastor of Spain for the length off the tee.

But that doesn’t relegate the others to the background in pursuit of the top P1.5 million purse with Tony Lascuña expected to bank on his superb short game and putting to offset his lack of distance. The 49-year-old multi-titled Davaoeño is also coming into the event brimming with confidence after regaining his Asian Tour card two weeks ago.

Meanwhile, Joenard Rates joins the title hunt vice Elmer Saban, who pulled out of the event the other day. Others in the fold are Guido Van der Valk of the Netherlands, Kei Matsuoka of Japan, Rufino Bayron, Nilo Salahog, Richard Sinfuego, James Ryan Lam, Fidel Concepcion, Rico Depilo, Albin Engino, Rene Menor, Paul Echavez, Mhark Fernando, Gerald Rosales and Art Arbole.

The TCC Invitational will usher in the new PGT season, which is marking its new decade of providing top-notch tournaments for the country’s top and rising pros with the PGT Qualifying School for local and foreign players slated March 9-13 at Splendido Taal Golf Club.

Action resumes in the ICTSI Summit Point Challenge on March 25-28, to be followed by the Delimondo National Pro-Am on May 11-16, also at Splendido, and the ICTSI Royal Northwoods Challenge on May 26-29 in San Rafael, Bulacan.

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