SANTA ROSA, Laguna—They’re all here. From the past greats to the present and future stars—all in pursuit of what has become one of the country’s most prestigious, coveted golf championships.
This guarantees a shootout right from tee-off as the rich The Country Club Invitational unfolds today at the TCC layout turned into a world-class championship course after undergoing a major facelift the last two years. It can play to a maximum yardage of 8,000 yards from the back tees.
It could also be a survival of the fittest with the dreaded wind expected to blow from all over, particularly during the weekend, which can alter the character of the holes in an instant.
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, easily the hottest Filipino player today with stints in the Sony Open, a US PGA Tour event, the Singapore Open and the Myanmar Open of the Asian Tour the last three weeks.
Juvic Pagunsan, Angelo Que and Tony Lascuña also vied in the first two legs of the region’s premier circuit with Pagunsan besting Tabuena with a strong joint runner-up finish in Singapore. But the 22-year-old ace shotmaker rebounded with a tied for third effort in Myanmar to build some kind of momentum and confidence heading to this week’s P5 million event.
The four Asian Tour regulars are 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.
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, meanwhile, won yesterday’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.