Elmer Salvador will be the marked man but a host of others will be in hot pursuit of the second straight Asian Development Tour crown when the ICTSI Orchard Golf Championship fires off beginning today at the Orchard's Palmer Course in Dasmariñas, Cavite.
Salvador is all fired-up to nail the last of two ADT championships slated in the country this year, his confidence boosted by a six-shot romp over Tony Lascuna in last week's Aboitiz Invitational Presented by ICTSI in Cebu.
"I feel good and confident of my chances at Orchard. But the field remains strong and anybody can win," said Salvador in Filipino on the eve of the $60,000 tournament capping a two-week swing of top-notch golfing action.
The entire Aboitiz field are all in the Orchard roster, including a strong international cast out to atone for its mediocre showing in Cebu, led by Korean Kim Gi-whan, who emerged the top finisher from among a slew of foreign bets at fifth.
But the likes of England's Peter Richardson and Dutch Guido Van der Valk and Australians Ryan Bulloch, Scott Barr and Luke Bleumink along with Singapore's Quincy Quek and Lam Zhi Qun, Aussies Unho Park and Glenn Joyner, and Koreans Young Nam and Park Il-hwan are all expected to figure in the title race in the 72-hole championship put up by International Container Terminal Services, Inc.
They will, however, tackle a course made tougher and longer by the recent rains, guaranteeing a wide-open battle for the top $10,465 purse in the tournament organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
"It's anybody's race, the course is soggy, making it longer than usual," said Lascuna, out to redeem himself from a final round fold-up in Cebu where he struggled with a closing birdie-less 76 and got blown away by Salvador.
Salvador underscored his readiness to go for back-to-back crown when he led his team composed of Arnel Paras, Tuan Nguyen and Deo Aguinaldo to victory in yesterday's pro-am tournament with 55.
George Thacker of England and teammates JB Garcia, Cris Carreon and Marvin Caparros combined for 56 to finish second.