DEFENDING champion Mardan Mamat and local ace Angelo Que face off in an early duel of the fancied bets, while Miguel Tabuena starts with Thai ace Prom Meesawat as the US$1 million Resorts World Manila Masters opens on Thursday at the Manila Southwoods.
Mamat, who also won an Asian Tour event in Bangladesh last May, is upbeat of his chances for a back-to-back feat in the country’s richest tournament.
“I’m looking forward to defend my title. Believe it or not, I like the Masters course by (Jack) Nicklaus which I think favors my game so much,” said Mamat, who has a conservative approach to the game.
“I like to make good use of my shots and take advantage of the par-5s,” added Mamat.
Que, thrice a winner on the Asian Tour, is confident of his game after a short break.
“I took time out from competitive golf last week to prepare for the Masters. I sort of got burned out last year because I kept playing in every tournament towards the end of the year,” said Que. “But it will be different now since I am well rested and better prepared.”
“I really looked forward to this tournament and I hope I can do a big rebound this year,” said Que, who missed the cut last year.
“I’ve been playing Southwoods since I was an amateur and I know where to put the ball even if I miss the targets.”
Que and Mamat will be joined by Thailand’s Danthai Boonma.
A VIP aircraft service worth $250,000 will be up for grabs as hole-in-one prize on the 241-yard No. 13, while a brand new Mitsubishi ASX car worth $32,000 the prize for an ace on the 191-yard No. 17.
The VIP aircraft service prize, sponsored by Red Tail Aviation, is valid for six months in the Philippines and includes helicopter or airplane trips within the country.
Taiwan’s Lu Wei-chih has been grouped with Elmer Salvador and Thai Arnond Vongvanu, while Taiwan’s Chan Yih-Shin starts with Nicholas Fung of Malaysia and Sri Lanka’s Mithun Perera.
Thailand’s Chawalit Plaphol is playing his first round with South Africa’s Bryce Easton and Australia’s Kalem Richardson.
Club bet Anthony Fernnado starts with Thailand’s Poom Saksansin and local bet Arnold Vilacencio, while Tony Lascuna has been grouped with Thailand’s Thaworn Wiratchant and India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar.