Tabuena, 2 other Pinoys kick off Asian Tour restart bid

© PhilSTAR Daily, Inc

Jan Veran

– Philstar.com

November 24, 2021 | 5:18pm

MANILA, Philippines – Miguel Tabuena has toned down expectations but remained upbeat on his chances as he launches his bid in the Asian Tour restart in the rich Blue Canyon Phuket Championship reeling off today (Thursday) in Phuket, Thailand.

The 27-year-old Tabuena hopes to cash in on an early draw with fellow former Philippine Open winner Berry Henson and Shiv Kapur of India. Meanwhile, Tony Lascuña drew Korean Sungho Lee and David Langley of England, and Justin Quiban will clash with Thais Chanachok Dejpiratanamongkol and Sarun Sirithon, eager and ready to get going in what promises to be a spirited start in one of two $1 million events marking the resumption of the region’s premier circuit after a 20-month hiatus due to pandemic.

The two-time Philippine Open champion Tabuena, who spent the last six months training in earnest in the US, Lascuña and Quiban are all geared up for the Canyon course’s challenges as well as the threats pose by the equally hungry bunch of rivals from all over.

The ICTSI-backed Tabuena, 2011 Philippine Open titlist Henson and three-time Asian Tour winner Kapur, tee off at 6:55 a.m. on No. 10 of the par-72 layout in Phuket, tipped to test the field’s length given its long 7,257 yardage, including the 600-yard par-5 No. 11 and all but one of the par-3s that stretch to over 200 yards.

Lascuña, also thrilled over the chance to showcase his wares again after a long layoff following the suspension of the Philippine Golf Tour which he used to dominate, also starts at the backside at 8:15 a.m. with Lee and Langley, while Quiban, his confidence boosted by a recent stint in a PGA Tour event, and his Thai counterparts brace for a tougher stint at 11:15 a.m.

Former Order of Merit winners Scott Hend of Australia (2016), Malaysian Gavin Green (2018) and local ace Jazz Janewattananond (2019) head the full-packed 144-player cast that also features multi-titled John Catlin of the US, India’s Gaganjeet Bhular and local aces Prom Meesawat. Prayad Marksaeng, Thaworn Wiratchant. Chapchai Nirat and Boonchu Ruangkit.

Janewattananond, Green and Hend tangle at 7:15 a.m. in an early clash of the fancied bets in the tournament played in bubble setup and held under the local government’s strict health measures and standard operation procedures.

Micah Shin of the US and Korean Kim Joo Hyung, who honed their skills and talent on the PGT, are also expected to crowd the big guns for top honors, along with Aussie David Gleeson, Singapore’s Koh Deng Shan, Malaysian Nicholas Fung, Mathiam Keyser of Dubai and Brazil’s Adilson Da Silva.

The Laguna Phuket Championship, meanwhile, will be played Dec. 2-5 at the Laguna Golf Phuket course.

In January, the Tour is planning to stage two more tournaments in Singapore over consecutive weeks.