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Lewton leads Luisita cast

Steve Lewton, who became the first Englishman to win the Solaire Philippine Open last March, sets out for another premier local crown – the $60,000 ICTSI Luisita Championship which reels off Wednesday in Tarlac.

The Northampton ace, who nipped American Johannes Veerman in sudden death to win Asia’s oldest national open at The Country Club, will banner the crack international field slugging it out with the local aces in the 72-hole event also serving as the third leg of this year’s Philippine Golf Tour.

After his breakthrough Phl Open win, Lewton also placed second in the rain-shortened PGT Northport Championship in Malaysia and turned in a ninth place effort at the PGM UMW Championship in Kuala Lumpur, making him one of the marked men in the upcoming event at the Luisita Golf and Country Club.

After surviving the exacting TCC layout with a one-under 287 total, Lewton is also expected to figure well at the par-72 Robert Trent Jones Sr.-designed course which poses a different kind of challenge with its narrow fairways, sleek putting surface and unsettling water hazards that come into play in at least 11 holes.

The unpredictable wind could also add up to the test and concern among the power-hitters in the ranks as it alters the character of the holes in an instant.

Aside from Lewton, other foreign aces tipped to contend for the top $10,500 purse in the event sponsored by ICTSI are James Bowen, John Catlin, Paul Harris and Brett Munson of the US, Aussies David Gleeson, Rhett McIvor, Jason Dawes and Nathan Park, and Park Jun Sung and Kim Sung Wook of Korea, Japanese Ryoma Miki, Yuta Sudo and Shota Ishikawa, South African Mathiam Keyser, Canadian Lee Sang Gyun and Finnish Teemu Putkonen.

Miguel Tabuena and Tony Lascuña head the local challenge along with Jay Bayron, Frankie Miñoza, Elmer Salvador, Jhonnel Ababa, Cassius Casas, Orlan Sumcad and youngsters Jobim Carlos, Justin Quiban and Ira Alido.

The Luisita leg actually kicks off a four-stage swing for the month with Orchard hosting the next tournament on May 10-13 before Manila Southwoods takes its turn on May 17-20.