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Shootout at S’woods’ Legends seen

CARMONA, Cavite – The Aboitiz Invitational 2017 reels off today with the elite international field bracing for a shootout at Manila Southwoods’ Legends course not only for top honors but also for bragging rights as the first winner of the inaugural PGT Asia Tour.

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The 72-hole championship serves as the kickoff leg of Asia’s newest pro golf league – an eight-stage circuit offering $100,000 for the first seven tournaments and $300,000 for the final leg.

The organizing Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. and sponsoring International Container Terminal Services, Inc. have actually lined up a three-year program for the PGA Asia Tour with a total of $1.7 million to be staked in 2018 and $2 million in 2019 with plans to further increase the purse in the future.

More events for each of the next two years are also being finalized and talks to hold future legs in other parts of Asia, particularly Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia, are also ongoing.

That should make this week’s title chase doubly interesting with the best and the brightest of Philippine golf slugging it out against a crack international field from at least 17 countries for the top $17,500 purse.

Reigning Philippine Golf Tour Order of Merit leader Tony Lascuña, No. 2 Clyde Mondilla, 2015 OOM champion Miguel Tabuena, Japan PGA Tour campaigner Angelo Que and defending champion Jay Bayron set out against PGT Asia Q-School topnotcher Thai Pasavee Lertvilai, No. 2 Seungjae Maeng and John Michael O’Toole of the US, Korean-American Micah Shin and Indonesians Joshua Wirawan and Elki Kow.

Given the ideal condition at the bunker-laden layout, low scoring is seen right in the first round of the championship sponsored by Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Inc.

The last time it hosted the Aboitiz Invitational in 2015, Juvic Pagunsan ripped it off with a 20-under 264 total and beat Thai Nirun Sae-Ueng by eight.

“Historically, scores are low at Legends and we expect the same again this week,” said Southwoods golf director and former pro Jerome Delariarte. “The course condition is good, so summer rules for now. We hope for the rain to stay away this week.”