THE 2017 Solaire Philippine Open, in cooperation with Meralco and PLDT, has increased its prize fund to $400,000 with the two firms coming in as the new backers of Asia’s oldest National Open, which reels off on March 2 at The Country Club in Laguna.
The new total purse has easily ranked the upcoming blue-ribbon event among the richest and biggest in history, drawing the leading Asian Tour and Asian Development Tour stars and other international players along with the cream of the local pro crop.
Organizing Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. general manager Colo Ventosa has guaranteed an elite cast, headed by former champions Mardan Mamat of Singapore, Marcus Both of Australia, Angelo Que (2008), Miguel Tabuena (2015) and Frankie Minoza (1988 and 2007).
Ventosa said the winner will earn as much as $70,000 or a whopping P3.5 million.
“The support that the Philippine Open has generated from the local corporations has been tremendous. It is through sponsorship that this great event can become bigger and better in the years to come,” said Ventosa.
Solaire Resort and Casino is coming in as the new title sponsor of the fabled event while Meralco and PLDT have been regular supporters of local golf with the PLDT Group a long-time sponsor of the amateur circuit.
The $400,000 championship is $100,000 more than the minimum prize fund of Asian Tour events.
Though the 72-hole championship, which used to be the kickoff leg of the Asian Tour, won’t be part of the region’s premier circuit this year, the PGTI has lured a stellar cast with the likes of Siddikur Rahman of Bangladesh, Canadian Richard Lee, Pachara Khongwatmai, Jazz Janewattananon, Panuphol Pittayarat and Rattanon Wannasrichan of Thailand and Brazilian Adilson Da Silva, among the Top 25 in the early AT Order of Merit ranking, joining the title hunt.
The leading ADT players are also in the fold, including Brett Munson of the US, Panuwat Muenlek of Thailand, Malaysian Arie Irawan and American John Catlin.
Also in the fold are Sam Chien of the US, Nicolas Fung and Gavin Green of Malaysia, Himmat Rai of India, Scott Barr, Unho Park and Scott Hend of Australia, Michael Tran of Vietnam, and Thais Thaworn Wiratchant, Thammanoon Sriroj, Chawalit Plaphol and Poom Saksansin.
Meanwhile, this year’s Open also serves as a preview of the Solaire Philippine Open’s grand centennial staging in 2018.
The National Golf Association of the Philippines, the governing body of golf in the country, has given the PGTI, which also organizes the annual ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour and the Ladies PGT, the rights to hold the next two Philippine Open with Solaire as title sponsor.