The Philippine Golf Tour (PGT) makes its stop in Laurel, Batangas, on Tuesday for the P2-million ICTSI Splendido Taal Challenge, and Michael Bibat, the former Asian Games bronze medalist who is hoping to snap a long title drought, believes that the tournament will be decided by whoever wields the driver the best that week.

“It’s not a really long course, but you have to hit your drives to the right places,” Bibat told the Inquirer on the eve of the 60-man field’s official practice round. “You have to miss it on the right spots to be able to have scoring opportunities.

“Drivers will be out of the bag almost every time.”

Splendido is a Greg Norman-designed layout that plays to just a shade under 7,000 yards but can bedevil the field because of its elevations and bending fairways.

Bibat, who looms as one of the players to watch after checking in third behind Miguel Tabuena and Clyde Mondilla in the Luisita leg last March, admits to cramming in rounds of practice to get in game shape as the local tour organized by the Pilipinas Golf Tournament, Inc. plays just its third leg of a five-leg season.

“There are a lot of us (players in the field) doing the same cramming,” said Bibat, who added that the unpredictable winds in Tagaytay can also make or break anyone’s chances in the 72-hole championship.

Meanwhile, Mondilla sets out to snap two bridesmaid finishes this season and the length that the Bukidnon native has off the tees can certainly serve him well in Batangas.

Titleless since January 2020 when he won in a five-man playoff at Pradera Verde in Pampanga, Mondilla is itching to win again after missing chances at Luisita last March and in Caliraya last month.

The event also marks the third time that the PGT will be held simultaneously with the Ladies PGT, with Chihiro Ikeda shooting for a follow-up to her three-shot victory over Chanelle Avaricio at Mount Malarayat two weeks ago in their side of the 54-hole championship. The ladies event also starts on Tuesday and ends on Thursday.

Antonio Lascuña, the former Order of Merit winner, has been continuously preparing at Manila Southwoods in search of his 19th win on Philippine soil. INQ

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