THE Country Club Invitational fires off on Feb. 14 kicking off the new season of the Philippine Golf Tour at the exclusive TCC layout in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.
Miguel Tabuena nipped three-time champion Juvic Pagunsan in a thrilling finish last year and another exciting battle is expected in the P5 million tournament with the top 40 players from last year’s PGT Order of Merit seeing action.
The elite list includes the event’s three-time winners Pagunsan and Angelo Que, while also playing are former titlists Tony Lascuña, Frankie Miñoza and Artemio Murakami. Inaugural winner Cassius Casas, however, won’t be around due to health reasons.
Last season’s PGT top earner Clyde Mondilla along with in-form Jhonnel Ababa, Zanieboy Gialon, Jay Bayron, Rene Menor, Michael Bibat and Elmer Salvador.
Although it has staged a major tournament in the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour late last year, this will only mark the third time that the Tom Weiskoph-designed course will host a top-level men’s tournament after it underwent a major facelift in 2015-16.
Tabuena’s winning score last year was 13-over 301. Englishman Steve Lewton and American Johannes Veerman scored one-under 287 in the Solaire Philippine Open last year, the former winning the playoff.
Others vying in the event put up by ICTSI boss Ricky Razon in 2003 to honor the memory of his father and ICTSI founder Don Pocholo are Jerson Balasabas, Orlan Sumcad, Keanu Jahns, Ferdie Aunzo, Jobim Carlos, James Ryan Lam, Rufino Bayron, Ira Alido, Omar Dungca, Joenard Rates, Charles Hong, Arnold Villacencio, Mhark Fernando, Erwin Arcillas and Albin Engino.
The TCC Invitational will also serve as tune-up for those vying in the grand Centennial Solaire Philippine Open set Feb. 28 to March 3.