Juvic Pagunsan will not only attempt to bounce back from a last-hole foldup last year but also nail a record championship in the P5 million The Country Club Invitational, which unfolds on February 14 at the TCC course in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.
Pagunsan missed forcing a playoff with a wet bogey on the tough No. 18, enabling Miguel Tabuena to escape with a one-stroke victory last year and claim his first crown in what has been considered as the country’s premier championship outside of the Philippine Open.
But the Japan PGA Tour-based shotmaker is back in the hunt again, ready to redeem himself against the cream of the local pro crop and resume his chase for a record fourth victory in the 72-hole championship held in honor of ICTSI founder Don Pocholo Razon.
The smooth-swinging Pagunsan and Angelo Que share the most number of wins at three apiece with the former raring to re-stamp his class on a field featuring the top 30 in last year’s Philippine Golf Tour Order of Merit ranks and former champions.
They include Tony Lascuña (2004) and Frankie Miñoza (2013) along with reigning Philippine Golf Tour Order of Merit winner Clyde Mondilla, and PGT Asia leg champions Rene Menor and Jhonnel Ababa, Zanieboy Gialon, Elmer Salvador, Jay Bayron, Michael Bibat, Jerson Balasabas;
Orlan Sumcad, Keanu Jahns, Ferdie Aunzo, Jobim Carlos, James Lam, Rufino Bayron, Ira Alido, Omar Dungca, Joenard Rates, Charles Hong, Arnold Villacencio, Erwin Arcillas and Mhark Fernando.
Dutch Guido Van der Valk and Americans Nicolas Paez and Micah Shin, and Japanese Toru Nakajima provide the foreign challenge in the 14th staging of the annual event put up by ICTSI president and chairman Ricky Razon in 2003. There was no TCC Invitational in 2015-16 to give way to the renovation of the Tom Weiskoph-designed layout.
While Pagunsan and Tabuena gear up for another possible title showdown, the chase for the top P1.5 million purse remains as wide open with Lascuña and Miñoza out to score their second win and the rest raring to join the elite roster of winners.
They include Ababa, who will be coming into the event brimming with confidence after sweeping the last two legs of the PGT Asia at Eagle Ridge and Pradera Verde.
The TCC Invitational will also serve as tune-up for those vying in the grand Centennial Solaire Philippine Open on February 28 to March 3, also at the TCC.