Pagunsan headlines strong Filipino challenge at Mt Malarayat

Batangas, Philippines; June 7: Juvic Pagunsan (pic above) from the Philippines begins the defense of his ASEAN PGA Tour Order of Merit title tomorrow when he competes in the ICTSI Mt. Malarayat Championship.

Pagunsan finished second in the event last year and leads a formidable Filipino contingent at Mt. Malarayat Golf and Country Club from June 8 to 11.The Filipino will be full of confidence as he claimed the ICTSI Eastridge Classic by one shot from compatriot Marvin Dumandan last Friday on the Philippine Golf Tour.

The US$50,000 ICTSI Mt. Malarayat Championship is the second leg on this year’s ASEAN PGA Tour, which teed off last month when Thailand’s Prom Meesawat triumphed in the Singha Pattaya Open. Also competing from the Philippines are Mars Pucay, who won this title in 2007, Jay Bayron, Tony Lascuna, Gerald Rosales, Felix Casas, Michael Bibat and exciting rookie Miguel Tabuena.

Their bid for honours will come under threat from a very strong field from Thailand led by Thanyakon Khrongpha, Wisut Artjanawat and Atthaphon Prathumanee, who are all winners on the ASEAN PGA Tour.Pagunsan won once last year on Tour in the Mercedes-Benz Masters Thailand, where he recorded a runaway seven shot victory in Phuket. He took the Merit crown after finishing the year with earnings of US$25,450 having played in seven of the 10 events.

The Filipino carded a five-under-par 67 in the final round last year to claim second place behind Thailand’s Chawalit Plaphol. Chawalit won by a margin of eight shots after he closed with a 68 for a brilliant tournament total of 22-under-par 266 – one shot away from matching the Tour record. Lascuna and Ferdie Aunzo finished in joint third place.

Like Pagunsan, both Thanyakon and Atthaphon tasted victory last year winning the Kariza Indonesia Championship and Mercedes-Benz Masters Indonesia respectively.

Wisut is a two time winner most noticeably having lifted the Mercedes-Benz Masters Philippines trophy in 2008.

The Mt. Malarayat event was inaugurated in 2007 and saw the country’s top golfer Angelo Que claim the title in 2008 and 2009.

International Container Terminal Services (ICTSI) are a leading port operator who have been a strong supporter of the Philippine Golf Tour. They have a desire to see professional golf in the Philippines make great strides forward by sponsoring tournaments and players.

The ASEAN PGA Tour boasts a total of nine events in 2011 offering overall prize money of US$685,000. The circuit recently welcomed the Negeri Sembilan Masters Invitational onto its schedule. The Malaysian event boasts a total purse of RM500,000 (US$165,000) and is the most lucrative tournament on the ASEAN PGA Tour. –