A little over a year after scoring a breakthrough at Riviera, Ira Alido is back in the hunt for a Philippine Golf Tour crown, stronger and better coming off a stint on the Asian Tour and the Asian Development Tour.
He missed the season’s kickoff leg at Luisita last month, but the 21-year-old rising star is more than ready to slug it out with the cream of the local pro crop in the ICTSI Caliraya Springs Championship unfolding on Tuesday in Cavinti, Laguna.
Alido, who broke into the pro circuit in 2018 with a lot of promise, dominated the same field in the PGT Riviera Invitational Championship in 2020, coasting to a nine-stroke romp over former PGT Order of Merit winner Jobim Carlos and two others at the Langer course.
He stayed fit and in shape during the long pandemic break through home practice although he admitted it’s a different thing being on the range or fairways where he could hit balls and measure his progress as a player. He vied in the DGC Open of the Asian Tour last month and in the ADT’s Gurugram Challenge three weeks ago, both in India.
But the rest of the 60-player PGT cast are also all primed up for the P2 million championship, including former Philippine Open champion Clyde Mondilla, who lost to absentee Miguel Tabuena in sudden death at Luisita, Jhonnel Ababa, Tony Lascuña, Jay Bayron, Michael Bibat, Marvin Dumandan, Zanieboy Gialon, Reymon Jaraula, Frankie Miñoza, Robert Pactolerin, Joenard Rates, Gerald Rosales, Ruperto Zaragosa, Dutch Guido Van der Valk, Lloyd Go and Carlos.
Held simultaneously with the PGT is the 54-hole Ladies PGT also set to fire off tomorrow with Chanelle Avaricio seeking a second straight championship after besting multi-titled Princess Superal in the ICTSI Hallow Ridge Challenge in San Pedro, Laguna two weeks ago.
But like Alido, Avaricio braces for a fierce challenge from the likes of reigning OOM winner Harmie Constantino and leg winners Daniella Uy and Sunshine Baraquiel while Chihiro Ikeda is also going all out to snap a long spell in the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Superal won’t be around to honor a commitment to play in Thailand but Marvi Monsalve, Sarah Ababa, Florence Bisera, Kristine Fleetwood, Apple Fudolin, Lucy Landicho, Pamela Mariano, Eva Miñoza, Gretchen Villacencio and Shery Villasencio along with lone amateur Aily Kidwell toughen up the cast in the P750,000 event put up by ICTSI.
What makes this week’s title chase doubly interesting is that no player from each circuit holds a distinct advantage as the touring pros will tackle the Arnold Palmer-designed layout for the first time, thus ruling out the proverbial edge in local knowledge of the course spruced up in championship condition.
But there sure will be players who will stand out in the next three or four days, most specifically those armed with long game and superb ball control and those who will come up with the necessary adjustments on a well-kept course that varies in character in every swirl of the wind.