The top 30 players in last year’s ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour Order of Merit gear up for a showdown for the richest purse staked on the local circuit—the P5 million The Country Club (TCC) Invitational slated February 6 to 9 at the TCC layout in Laguna province.
Frankie Miñoza, who nipped brothers Jay and Rufino Bayron in a playoff to capture his first TCC Invitational crown, heads the select field that also includes the past winners of the annual event which has grown in stature and magnitude since it was launched in 2003.
With the winner set to pocket a whopping P1.5 million, the upcoming four-day championship remains the biggest tournament on the local golf calendar and the most awaited among the best of the best and a select group of amateurs. Angelo Que remains the winningest among the elite with three titles with the three-time Asian Tour winner and World Cup of Golf veteran raring to launch his drive for a record fourth crown in the annual championship put up by ICTSI chairman and CEO Ricky Razon in honor of his late father and ICTSI founder Enrique “Don Pocholo” Razon Sr., himself an avid golfer.
But Que is expected to face stiff challenge from a slew of others, including Miñoza, who will be coming into the event oozing with confidence following a joint fourth place finish in the recent Sabah Masters of the Asean PGA Tour.
Tony Lascuña is actually the top favorite owing to his back-to-back ICTSI PGT OOM championship. The 2004 TCC Invitational winner and Que’s partner in last year’s
World Cup, also placed fourth in Sabah and is upbeat of his chances for a second diadem following a two-leg victory and four runner-up finishes in last year’s circuit.
Others fancied to contend for the crown are Miguel Tabuena, Elmer Salvador, Cassius
Casas, Carl Santos-Ocampo, Mhark Fernando, Jhonnel Ababa, Michael Bibat, Mars
Pucay, Edward Reyes, Jessie Balasabas, Charles Hong, Gerald Rosales, Elmer Saban, Benjie Magada and Richard Sinfuego.
But nothing is certain at the TCC, which is again expected to bring out the best or the worst from the field with its dreaded wind, hazards and lightning-fast greens.
The TCC Invitational will also officially kick off this year’s ICTSI PGT which starts
March 5 with the Solaire Open.
Others seeing action at TCC Invitational are Dutch Guido Van der Valk, Marvin Dumandan, Clyde Mondilla, Orlan Sumcad, Rey Pagunsan, Jun Bernis, Tomokazu Yoshinaga, Anthony Fernando, Randy Garalde, Ferdie Aunzo and 2009 champion Artemio Murakami.
Meanwhile, the traditional 18-hole pro-am event, featuring the leadings pros and ICTSI’s guests from various sectors, will be held on February 5.