Former Philippine team members get their baptism of fire next week when the Marapara stop of the Philippine Golf Tour (PGT) gets off the ground in Bacolod province, playing a P2.25 million event where the former Nationals who fought for the flag before will get a feel of how it is trying to make a living.
And waiting for them are those who have done just that for years.
Gab Manotoc, Kristoffer Arevalo and Elee Bisera lead a bumper crop of PGT Q-School graduates and will debut in the ICTSI Negros Occidental Classic as they leave behind amateur careers that were highlighted by international stints for Team Philippines and make the grind starting next week.
“I’ve been sort of waiting for this,” Manotoc told the Inquirer over the phone. “I’m 25, but in golf, I guess it’s never too late [to turn pro].”
Like Manotoc, Arevalo also used the recent Philippine Airlines Interclub in Cebu as his last amateur event, helping Manila Southwoods keep the centerpiece Men’s title.
“It’s going to be a different feeling, for sure,” Manotoc said about playing for cash from here on. “But that’s how it is, we all have to take the next step.”
Bisera, meanwhile, played in the PH Nomura Cup team last year at the Masters course of Southwoods together with Arevalo, who said that he “can’t wait to bring them (pros) some heat” at Marapara.
“It’s not any different for me, playing for flag or money,” Arevalo said in a separate interview. “I have always carried the Philippine flag wherever I play, and I will continue to do that wherever it is I end up.”
Arevalo, who won a Junior World title in 2013 in San Diego, said he will use the PGT as a springboard to go international, with the US Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) Tour being the ultimate target.
“That has always been the dream,” he said. “And I will give it my best to learn here (playing in the local circuit) and I am looking at maybe June before I start my PGA campaign.”
Guido Van der Valk and Antonio Lascuña, who finished 1-2 in the Order of Merit race last season, headline the stellar cast of grizzled pros that will also travel to Sta. Barbara in Iloilo province the week after and then to Caliraya in Cavinti, Laguna province, in the third week of April.
“It’s a new season and I cannot wait to get going,” Lascuña said in Filipino while in practice at Southwoods. “It’s going to be very exciting because of the new faces.”
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