THREE former champions, 30 mainstays of One Asia Tour and 45 others from PGT Asia make up the bulk of the foreign contingent gearing up for the grand Centennial Solaire Philippine Open beginning on Wednesday at The Country Club in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.
Singapore’s Mardan Mamat and Marcus Both of Australia, champions at Wack Wack in the 2012 and 2014 editions, respectively, seek to become the first repeat winner since 2007 along with Englishman Steve Lewton, who won the crown last year at TCC.
One Asia campaigners Sam Burrell, Ryan Carter, Oskar Arvidsson and Michael Choi of Australia, Malaysians Nicolas Fung, Kim Kwang and Keegan He Sen, Jazz Janewattananond, Thammanoon Sriroj and Natipong Srithong of Thailand, and Americans Matthew Negri, John Kelly and Blake Snyder are also seeing action in the $600,000 (around P31 million) event.
Others tipped to contend in the country’s premier championship sponsored by Solaire Resort and Casino offering US$108,000 (around P5.6 million) to the champion and co-organized by the National Golf Association of the Philippines and Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. are PGT Asia mainstays Guido Van der Valk of the Netherlands, American Nicolas Paez, Japanese Toru Nakajima, Macedonian Peter Stojanovski and Australian Nathan Park.
Players from 18 countries, including one from Andorra, Macedonia, Sweden, Myanmar, Colombia, Great Britain and the Netherlands, are vying in the blue-ribbon event sponsored by ICTSI, Meralco, PLDT, Smart, Bulgari, Diamond Motor Corp., BDO, Central Azucarera de Tarlac, Amon Trading, Dynamic Sports and Custom Clubmakers.
Focus will also be on young Micah Shin, who ruled the TCC Invitational on a five-under 285 aggregate two weeks ago.
The 21-year-old Davao-based Korean-American bucked the final round charge of Miguel Tabuena to become the first non-Filipino winner of the P5 million event.
The leading players in the 132-player field, meanwhile, test the long TCC layout one last time in Tuesday’s pro-am where they will be grouped with the amateurs and guests from the event’s chief backers.