Pros face ‘new’ test at Forest Hills Nicklaus course for PGT tourney


THE touring pros get to grips with a challenge far more daunting than the one they dealt with the last time out as they swing back to Antipolo City for the International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI) Forest Hills Championship from June 20 to 23 at one of the two championship courses of the Forest Hills Golf and Country Club.

The par-72 Nicklaus side, the other being the Palmer layout, underwent refurbishment since it last hosted the Philippine Golf Tour (PGT) in 2016-17 and has been kept in championship condition all-year long, making it A-ready for both the P2 million men’s tournament and the P750,000 Ladies PGT.

“The club has redone/rebuilt six greens [Nos. 1, 3, 9, 11, 14 and 18],” said Forest Hills general manager Raymond Bunquin, adding they were returned to their original sizes, most notably the closing hole, which used to feature a bunker in the middle.

He stressed that all the work were carefully planned and recommended by the grounds committee, headed by Forest Hills chairman Bob Sobrepeña, and with the guidance of course architect John Cope of the Nicklaus Group.

“Forest Hills presents a challenge that needs all the shots in the book. A demanding shotmaker’s course where even the pros can’t take any hole easy,” Bunquin said.

While he admits accent will be on power in some holes, precision and accuracy are the biggest factors to produce good scores, adding: “The pros need to know where and when to gamble. A small miss can lead to a huge score.”

Reymon Jaraula turned what was expected to be a wild finish into a runaway victory, cruising to a five-shot romp over Lloyd Go and Clyde Mondilla in last week’s ICTSI Valley Golf Challenge.

But the Del Monte ace is wary of making it two-in-a-row at Forest Hills where he has practically no local knowledge of, saying: “I need to toughen up and work on some parts of my game to win again.”

That should include putting as Bunquin said the course’s last line of defense will help make or break one’s title drive in both the 72-hole men’s championship and the 54-hole women’s event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments Inc.

“Normally our greens run from 8.5 to 9 Stimpmeter. The course is prepared to be in tournament t condition in a daily basis,” Bunquin said. “For this event, expect it to be a tad faster than the normal [speed].”

“The wind can also cause trouble if and when it blows, so accuracy will be a premium off the tee in windy conditions,” he added.

Aside from Jaraula, Go and Mondilla, also expected to join the title chase in the seventh leg of this year’s circuit put up by ICTSI are leg winners Jhonnel Ababa (Villamor Philippine Masters), Ira Alido (Bacolod), Rupert Zaragosa (Iloilo) and Tony Lascuña (Caliraya Springs).

Dutch Guido van der Valk, the reigning back-to-back The Country Club Invitational winner, also seeks to snap a spell, along with Keanu Jahns, Fidel Concepcion, Rico Depilo, Albin Engino, Jay Bayron, Elmer Salvador and Joenard Rates and young guns Gabriel Manotoc, Josh Jorge, Sean Ramos and Korean Hyun Ho Rho.

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