FORMER Asian Tour No. 1 Juvic Pagunsan starts his Solaire Philippine Open bid with Thailand’s Poom Saksakin and Malaysia’s Nicholas Fung on Wednesday at The Country Club in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.
Pagunsan is coming off a big victory last week in the Philippine Golf Tour Asia’s ICTSI Riviera Challenge and is eager to sustain the fine play and finally win the national open.
“I like my chances coming off a win in Riviera,” said Pagunsan.
Pagunsan won the TCC Invitational thrice but didn’t see action in the Open held at TCC the past two years owing to his campaign in the Japan PGA Tour.
The trio are set to start at 12:20 p.m. on No. 1 when weather and wind conditions are expected to get tougher.
Players from Australia, the US and 10 other countries are also vying for the title in the US$500,000 (around P26 million) event sponsored by Solaire Resort & Casino.
Two local top guns also gun not only for a breakthrough Open victory but also for redemption after missing the cut at Riviera with reigning PGT Order of Merit champion Jobim Carlos slugging it out with PGT Asia Luisita Championship winner David Gleeson of Australia and Taiwanese Chiu Han-Ting in a flight ahead of Pagunsan and company.
Clyde Mondilla, the country’s top player in 2017 who also failed to advance in the penultimate leg of the PGTA 2018-19 second season, drew an earlier start at 8 a.m. with Australia’s Simon Vitakangas and Thai veteran Wisut Artjanawat.
Also getting morning tee times were three-time PGTA winner Jhonnel Ababa, Aboitiz Invitational titlist Damien Jordan of Australia and Thai Prom Meesawat, who was beaten by Miguel Tabuena in a playoff last year.
Tabuena withdrew from defending the crown due to a back injury he sustained during the pro-am of the Maybank Championship in Malaysia three weeks ago.
Former champion Angelo Que, also a three-time winner at TCC Invitational, is also seeing action in the event sanctioned by the National Golf Association of the Philippines and backed by ICTSI, PLDT Enterprise, Meralco, BDO and PGT Asia official apparel Pin High, along with PGT leg winner Nicolas Paez, Sam Gillis and Brett Munson of the US, Thailand’s Chawalit Plaphol and Puk Pradittan, Spain’s Marcos Pastor and Englishmen Grant Jackson and Joshua Grenville-Wood.
Korean-American Micah Shin, who became the first non-Filipino to win the TCC Invitational last year, and compatriot and PGT leg winner Kim Joo Hyung are also expected to figure in the title race in the event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.