Juvic Pagunsan will have all the motivation, not to mention momentum, when he sets out for the elusive Solaire Philippine Open crown against a stellar international field starting Wednesday (April 3) at The Country Club in Laguna.
By dominating the ICTSI Riviera Challenge in his very first Philippine Golf Tour Asia foray last Saturday, Pagunsan will be bringing in some cloak of invincibility to the $500,000 event whose composition remains as talent-laden as ever despite the withdrawal of last year’s champion Miguel Tabuena.
“This (win) is a big boost heading to the Phl Open,” said the soft-spoken Pagunsan after beating fellow Japan PGA Tour campaigner and former Phl Open champ Angelo Que by seven at Riviera.
Without the injured Tabuena, observers note Pagunsan will have one less chief rival in his pursuit for a first ever Open diadem although Que will be there to shoot for a second championship along with the other local top guns and the rest of the cast that incudes some of the leading players from Australia, the US, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Colombia, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Indonesia, India, England and Canada.
In short, Pagunsan will still be in for a tough challenge with the TCC layout also to provide a true test of golf with its length, hazards and sleek putting surface with the wind also expected to come into play in all four days.
‘Winning your National Open again is always special,” said Que, hinting at a strong performance for the power-hitting shotmaker following a number of mediocre finish after reigning at Wack Wack in 2008.
Reigning Philippine Golf Tour Order of Meit winner Jobim Carlos and former OOM champion Clyde Mondilla, meanwhile, will seek redemption in the fabled event sponsored by Solaire Resort & Casino for the third straight year after missing the cut last week.
Like Pagunsan and a horde of others, the Thais are also going all out to score their first Open victory. They came tantalizingly close last year but veteran Prom Meesawat bowed to Tabuena in a thriller of a sudden death.
The 2017 title race was also decided in a playoff with England’s Steve Lewton nipping American Johannes Veerman with the same finish expected this week given the depth of the field and an exacting layout kept in championship form all year-long.
Ten Australians, led by PGT Asia leg winners Damien Jordan and David Gleeson, and 11 players from the US, headed by regular local campaigners Sam Gillis, Lexus Keoninh, Brett Munson, Cory Oride and PGT leg titlist Nicholas Paez are also in the fold, all seeking to get a crack at the coveted crown in the event sanctioned by the National Golf Association of the Philippines headed by president Martin Lorenzo and backed by Pin High golf apparel.
Still, focus will be on the smooth-swinging Pagunsan, whose skills, talent and current form, plus sky-high confidence, could be tough for the field to overcome.”‹