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Red-hot Jaraula leads Forest Hills cast

Daily Tribune file photo Reymon Jaraula is looking for back-to-back titles.

ANTIPOLO CITY — The ICTSI Forest Hills Classic kicks off Tuesday, 20 June, in a start likely to stir up play among a cluster of aces eager to score a second win and a pack of hungry campaigners keen on breaking through halfway through the Philippine Golf Tour season.

But no player comes into the P2-million-event — at one of Forest Hills’ two championship courses — with as much confidence as Reymon Jaraula.

He snapped a long spell with an emphatic victory at Valley a couple of weeks back, beating Lloyd Go and Clyde Mondilla by five.

Though he hasn’t played the Nicklaus side, Jaraula said he remains optimistic of his chances at the par-71, 7,105-yard layout, which requires a combination of shots from the mound to the green and sound decision-making.

“I have never played Nicklaus but I did (play) at Palmer where I posted a couple of Top 10 finishes while the missing the cut once. But coming off a big win, my confidence is high going to Forest Hills,” Jaraula said in Filipino.

But the way he routed the stellar Valley field speaks well not just of his confidence and form but his competitive fire.

The Del Monte ace, who toiled for four years before scoring a follow-up to his maiden win at Pueblo de Oro in 2019, is also giving priority to his putting.

“If my putting clicks, I’ll have a big chance,” added Jaraula, who drew Dutch Guido van der Valk and Elmer Salvador in the 7:30 a.m. flight on No. 1.

Other marquee matchups pit Jhonnel Ababa, Korean Hyun Ho Rho and Fidel Concepcion at 7:40 a.m.; Tony Lascuña, Richard Sinfuego and Go at 7:50 a.m.; Ira Alido, Nilo Salahog and Mondilla at 8 a.m., and Rupert Zaragosa, Angelo Que and Zanieboy Gialon at 8:10 a.m., all at the frontside.

But precision off the tee and accuracy on iron play, plus the ability to pull off recovery shots, are also paramount to one’s title bid at the demanding course. Bacolod leg winner Alido, Iloilo stop victor Zaragosa, Caliraya Springs titlist Lascuña and reigning Philippine Masters champion Ababa, are all primed and fired up to get going and become the first player to win twice this year.

But a merry mix of veteran campaigners and young turks have also fortified their respective games during the break through daily training and practice rounds, setting the stage for a wild chase for the top P360,000 in the next four days.

Mondilla, who last won at Pradera Verde in the last PGT Asia event in 2020, is hard-pressed to end a long title drought although his joint runner-up finish with Go at Valley could hint at a successful campaign this week.

Go, for his part, sets off hoping to ride on that big finish as he seeks to finally score a breakthrough win, while multi-titled Que and Van der Valk try to recall their fierce form and spark another title run in the event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments Inc.

Former leg winners Gialon and Jay Bayron are also expected to contend along with Keanu Jahns, Gerald Rosales, Mars Pucay, Sean Ramos and Enrico Gallardo.

Also seeing action are Gabriel Manotoc, Kristoffer Arevalo, Elee Bisera, Josh Jorge, Jonas Magcalayo, Ivan Monsalve, Leandro Bagtas, Salahog, Japanese Ueda Atsushi and Korean Kim Minseong.

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