David Gleeson and Damien Jordan set out for the ICTSI Pradera Verde Classic all psyched up, eager to cash in on their power for another crack at a PGT Asia crown when the $100,000 event fires off Wednesday at the Pradera Verde Golf and Country Club.
The Aussies broke the Filipinos’ stranglehold of the region’s newest circuit with contrasting victories last year with Gleeson edging Erwin Arcillas on the third extra hole to claim the Luisita Championship and Jordan sustaining a brilliant start to beat Thai Namchok Tantipokhakul by four in the Aboitiz Invitational at the Orchard.
The Filipinos, on the other hand, ruled the other five events of the PGTA’s second season held through 2018-19, making the eighth stop this week in Lubao, Pampanga a virtual clash of a local crew out to reassert its might and a fired-up Aussie side seeking to impose their strength on a well-maintained course that puts premium on power and shotmaking.
But a slew of other foreign aces are also in the fold, firming up the elite cast that includes the title-hungry Thais, headed by Wisut Artjanawat, Pasavee Lertvilai, Poosit Supupramai and Thammanoon Sriroj along with Americans Sydney Chung, Dylan Jackson, Andy Kang and Lexus Keoninh, Englishmen Benjamin David, Joe Knox and George Twyman, Keisuke Takahashi of Japan, Korean Hwang Myung Chal, Spain’s Salvador Paya Vila and Peter Stojanovski of Macedonia, all chasing their first championship in the circuit put up by ICTSI.
Gleeson and Jordan, along with a select number of pros, get to test the flat but challenging Pradera layout in tomorrow’s pro-am tournament where they will be paired with officials and guests of the event’s chief backers, including ICTSI, Custom Clubmakers, Meralco, K&G Golf Apparel, BDO, Sharp, KZG, PLDT, Empire Golf and Sports and M.Y. Shokai Technology, Inc.
Jhonnel Ababa ruled the inaugural Pradera Classic last year, completing a rare back-to-back title romp in the circuit following his triumph at Eagle Ridge. But the former amateur hotshot will be hard pressed to make it two straight given the depth of the competing field.
For one, the tall, sturdy Jordan’s game could fit at Pradera, thus giving him an early edge off the mound although if the winds come into play, it could put severe options on precision which could pave the way for a wild finish.