Ira, Rupert locked, loaded for Caliraya

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AFTER splitting the Visayan sortie titles in varying fashions last month, Ira Alido and Rupert Zaragosa track the same route in pursuit of a second crown as action in the Philippine Golf Tour (PGT) swings to Cavinti in Laguna Tuesday for the Internatioanl Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI) Caliraya Springs Championship at the Caliraya Springs Golf Club.

They both agree it will be an iron and wedge game.

“For sure, emphasis will be on the approach shots because putting would be a bit tricky on Caliraya greens,” said Alido, who battled from five shots down to edge multi-titled Tony Lascuña by one shot in the ICTSI Negros Occidental Classic at Marapara.

“If I can manage to hit it closer than I did in the previous events, I would be up there for sure and would have a really good chance of winning,” he added.

Zaragosa, who dominated the field in scoring a breakthrough in the Iloilo Golf Challenge, is also putting premium on ball control, saying.

“Court management is important, and driving, too,” Zaragosa said. “It’ll be a matter of where you put your second shot, Caliraya’s greens are unpredictable.”

That guarantees a spirited chase for top honors in the P2.5 million event put up by ICTSI with 62 others, made up for the country’s leading players, veteran campaigners and a host of rising young guns, all geared up for four days of battle of precision at the well-kept Arnold Palmer-designed course which successfully marked its first hosting of the country’s premier pro circuit last year.

Zanieboy Gialon broke away from a tight 36-hole battle with a third round 68 to lead by five then cruised to a four-stroke victory over former Philippine Open champion Clyde Mondilla to snap a five-year title spell in the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments Inc.

But the amiable Davaoeño shotmaker expects a more challenging week this time with Alido and Zaragosa all set for another stab at PGT glory and the likes of The Country Club Invitational back-to-back winner Guido van der Valk, Tony Lascuña, Michael Bibat, Jhonnel Ababa, Joenard Rates, Frankie Miñoza, Albin Engino, Mars Pucay raring to get into the winning act.

“It’s really important for my game because I know that I can really compete in this sport,” said Alido, referring to his improbable victory at Marapara. “It’s also a statement that my first win (at Riviera in 2020) wasn’t purely luck and I know that I have what it takes to be successful in my career.”

As part of their buildup, Alido and Zaragosa worked on their irons and short game during the break.

“It’s more about focusing on my weakness in my game right now which is my iron shots, knowing that is the key for me to stay up there on the leaderboard,” Alido said. “I’m obviously aiming for a win knowing I can play well at Caliraya.”

Zaragosa, however, has opted to tone down expectations.

“I have no expectations, my goal is to follow my game plan,” he said. “I focused on my short game in practice and studied which clubs to use.”

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