THE Country Club Invitational unfolds on Thursday at the TCC layout that has been transformed into a world-class championship course with a major facelift the last two years.
The course in Sta. Rosa, Laguna can play to a maximum yardage of 8,000 yards from the back tees.
The layout’s sleek, undulating putting surface, unsettling hazards and the roughs are the other elements that make the TCC tougher and battle for the top P1.5 million purse fierce among the best in the land.
“It will be a new course for everyone and it will be fun to play against the country’s best,” said Miguel Tabuena, the hottest Filipino golfer today with stints in the PGA Tour’s Sony Open, the Singapore Open jointly-sanctioned by the Japan and Asian Tours, and the Myanmar Open of the Asian Tour the last three weeks.
Juvic Pagunsan, Angelo Que and Tony Lascuña also saw action in the first two legs of the region’s premier circuit, with Pagunsan posting a strong joint runner-up finish in Singapore.
Tabuena tied for third in Myanmar to build momentum and confidence heading to this week’s P5 million event.
The four Asian Tour regulars were actually set to join the Bangladesh Open also slated this week but all took the first flight back home after the Myanmar tilt to prime up for what has long been considered as one of the country’s premier championship, put up by ICTSI chairman and president Ricky Razon in 2003 to honor the memory of his father ICTSI founder Don Pocholo.
Tabuena drew sophomore pro Jobim Carlos and Dutch Guido Van der Valk in a mid-morning start after the group of Pagunsan, Clyde Mondilla and 2014 champion Cassius Casas.
Lascuña, top money earner in the last Philippine Golf Tour season, won in 2004 and looks to score a second title. He tees off after Tabuena’s in the company of former winner Frankie Miñoza and Elmer Salvador.
Japan PGA Tour campaigners Que and Pagunsan also made themselves available this week, not just to compete with the local aces but more on a personal note, each gunning for a record fourth TCC title.
Others seeing action after former winner Artemio Murakami and the rest of the top players in last year’s Order of Merit on the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour. They include Clyde Mondilla, Jay Bayron, Elmer Salvador, Zanieboy Gialon, Orlan Sumcad, Jhonnel Ababa, Jobim Carlos, Jerson Balasabas, Joenard Rates, Rene Menor, Marvin Dumandan, Michael Bibat, Mars Pucay, Charles Hong, Rufino Bayron, Justin Quiban, Mhark Fernnado, Arnold Villacencio, Albin Engino, Randy Garalde, Erwin Arcillas, Rolando Marabe Jr.
TCC is hosting a tournament for the first time since undergoing renovation the last two years.
“It's challenging because we've added a few creeks to some of the holes, we added minor changes but it makes a difference in terms of how you play it. It's gonna be more of a thinking game, basically, they really have to take care of their next shot,” said Pilipinas Golf Tour and TCC general manager Colo Ventosa.
"It's long but PGA standard. It's a challenging course, definitely,” added Ventosa,who joined TCC president Jose Eduardo Alarilla, and ICTSI golf program head and PGT executive director Narlene Soriano in launching the 2017 ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour season as well as feting the winners of last year's circuit.
Dutch Guido Van Der Valk and OV Espiritu won Wednesday’s pro-am with a net 62, beating Que and Jun Sta. Ana (net 63) and Ryomi Miki and Alex Revilla (net 63).
The first leg of this year’s PGT will be on Feb. 15-18 with the Anvaya Cove Invitational in Bataan while the Ladies PGT will start on March 14 at Splendido Taal Golf Club.