THE Philippine Open gets going after a one-day delay, with defending champion Marcus Both set to start with former Asian Tour No. 1 Juvic Pagunsan and Thai ace Thaworn Wiratchant on Friday at Luisita Golf and Country Club in Tarlac.
Both is looking to score his fourth Asian Tour title, while leading the challengers is Paul Peterson of the US, at 240th the highest ranked player in the tournament.
The players look to make their moves early, with the tournament reduced to 54 holes after the country was hit by Typhoon Nona.
The Robert Trent Jones, Sr.-designed layout was closed the last two days and most players will enter the first day without playing a practice round.
“I played nine holes on Monday and another nine on Tuesday. I’ve seen the course but how much it is going to change with all the rain, we will know tomorrow. Everyone will be going out there like a practice round! Guys will figure out the course by the second round so you need to take advantage of the first day,” said Both.
The Australian dramatically won the Philippine Open last year after losing his Asian Tour card. He is staring at a similar position again as he sits in 132nd position on the Order of Merit and will need victory to retain full playing rights for 2016.
Meanwhile, 21-year-old Miguel Tabuena, top earner on the Philippine Golf Tour this season, had a fever on Thursday but is expected to see action and can still be considered top favorite. He this year won on the PGT with a 22-under total on the course under preferred lies, which will also be applied this week.
“Since it’s preferred lies and the greens are relatively soft due to recent rains, I think the leader will be around 65-66,” said Luisita’s Jeric Hechanova.
Tabuena has a midday start with Hung Chien-yao of Chinese Taipei and Danthai Boonma of Thailand.
Tony Lascuna plays with Mardan Mamat of Singapore and Paul Peterson of the US.
Cassius Casas, also a former Philippine Open winner, tees off at noon with Jonathan Moore of the US and Thammanoon Sriroj of Thailand in the tournament sanctioned by the National Golf Association of the Philippines and backed by the MVP Sports Foundation, Smart, PLDT, Metro Pacific, Amon Trading, Central Azucarera de Tarlac and Ayala Land, Inc. with San Miguel Corp., Suntrust Properties and Sta. Lucia as hole sponsors.