Veteran Tony Lascuña and young Miguel Tabuena set out against a power-packed international roster that includes no fewer than 30 Asian Tour winners as they banner the locals bid in the $1 million RW Manila Masters firing off on Thursday at the Manila Southwoods Golf and Club’s Masters course in Carmona, Cavite.
Lascuña, a three-time Order of Merit winner on the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour, is raring to slug it out with the best in the fold, confident of his chances for a breakthrough victory in the country’s richest golf championship after a dismal stint the last time out.
“I didn’t have much luck in 2014. My driving and putting were really off, including a number lipped outs,” said the 45-year-old Lascuna, who hobbled and wound up tied for 52nd last year. “Hopefully, I’ll get some luck this week.”
The event, sanctioned by the Asian Tour and held in cooperation with the Manila Southwoods, is also staged to further boost pro golf in the country and in Asia and at the same time create opportunities for Filipino golfers to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics and promote the Philippines as a golfing haven and top class tourist destination.
Like Lascuña, Tabuena also had a poor finish in last year’s second staging of the event won by Singapore’s Mardan Mamat, ending up at joint 47th. But the young shotmaker hopes to make a big surge this time, given his fierce form that netted him the local tour’s OOM title.
“Having success on the local tour was a big achievement for me. I am so glad I did it but I hope the form will cross over to the Asian Tour,” said Tabuena.
Both aces, however, remain wary of the field’s depth and talent although they feel the local players have a slight edge playing on the hazard-laden, wind-raked Masters Course.
“Most of us know Southwoods very well because we always play there. It will be good for us to shine and show. It will be a good chance for us to move up in the Asian Tour OOM,” said Tabuena.
Manila Southwoods chair Bob Sobrepeña said the course has been spruced up to championship form, making it a true test of golf for the elite field that includes Thais Thaworn Wiratchant, Prom Meesawat, Danthai Boonma and Thammanoon Sriroj, Swede Daniel Chopra, Aussie Marcus Both, Taiwan’s Lu Wei-chih, Chiragh Kumar of India and Sri Lanka’s Mithun Perera.
“We are privileged and honored to be the host venue again for what is now the country’s richest golf tournament on the Asian Tour,” said Sobrepeña.
Joining Lascuna and Tabuena in the local list are three-time Asian Tour winner Angelo Que, former Asia’s No. 1 Frankie Minoza, Elmer Salvador, Jay Bayron, Orlan Sumcad, Cassius Casas, Jhonel Ababa, Zanie Gialon, Charles Hong, Rufino Bayron, Ferdie Aunzo, Marvin Dumandan, Mike Bibat, Tonight Fernando, Arnold Villacencio, Clyde Mondilla, Joenard Rates, Jun Bernis, Mars Pucay, Rene Menor, Rey Pagunsan, Mhark Fernando, Robert Pactolerin, Keanu Jahns, Nilo Salahug, Paul Echavez, Randy Garalde, Rico Depilo, Rolando Marabe, Benjie Magada, John Rey Pactolerin and Artemio Murakami.