For Tony Lascuña, it’s now or never as far as his quest for the elusive Solaire Philippine Open crown is concerned.
The reigning Philippine Golf Tour Order of Merit champion admits he won’t be among the early list of favorites in the coming $400,000 event at The Country Club, saying the honor belongs to the power-hitters, not only from among the local players but also from the men of the Asian Tour and Asian Development Tour.
“Given the TCC’s length, the long-hitters have the advantage,” said Lascuña, now 46 and who has long traded length for accuracy. “I’m not getting any younger and the field is teeming with young players who can hit it really long.”
But the amiable shotmaker, the winningest player on the local tour the last five years, believes he still got what it takes to win big-time tournaments, particularly the one missing in his vast trophy collection.
“There are a lot of good players now. I just want to be able to give myself a chance against them,” said Lascuña, whose best finish in Asia’s oldest National Open was joint second in 2014 won by Aussie Marcus Both at Wack Wack.
Like majority in the full field of 132 players, Lascuña said he likes his chances in the upcoming event held in cooperation with Meralco and PLDT, especially in the presence of the wind.
“The wind factor should partly take away the power-hitters’ edge but I have to play consistent and try to minimize my mistakes to get a chance. With my current form, I think this is my best chance to win the Open,” said Lascuña, who won five tournaments last year.
The TCC could indeed play longer than its 7652-yardage with most holes expected to play against the wind or heavy crosswind, thus putting premium on more clubs and easy swings to put less spin on the ball. It could also boil down to the last chip or putt, given the layout’s sleek, undulating putting surface.
That makes the battle for the top $72,000 doubly interesting with Lascuña, along with the top local bets, hoping to use their local knowledge of the course, having played in the TCC Invitational won by Miguel Tabuena three weeks ago.
The blue-ribbon event, backed by Pioneer Insurance, Lexus, BDO, Sharp, Custom Clubmaker, KZG, Empire Golf and Titleist, actually serves as a preview of the Solaire Philippine Open’s grand centennial staging in 2018.
The National Golf Association of the Philippines, the governing body of golf in the country, has given the PGTI, which also organizes the annual ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour and the Ladies PGT, the rights to hold the next two Philippine Open with Solaire as title sponsor.
With Lascuña, Tabuena and former champion Angelo Que as spearheads, the locals will be up against a crack foreign field, led by former Phl Open champions Marcus Both (2014) of Australia, Singaporean Mardan Mamat (2012) and Taiwanese Yeh Chang-ting (1993) along with 2013 Solaire Open champion at Wack Wack Lin Wen Tang of Chinese Taipei and Asian Development Tour-PGT leg winners Arie Irawan and Gavin Green of Malaysia and Thai Ittiphat Buranatanyarat.