More than his ever-improving game, Micah Shin will be bringing in a large dose of confidence when he sets out against a crack international field in the country’s premier golf championship two weeks from now.
But while Shin bested the cream of the local pro plus three other fellow foreign bets in the just-concluded The Country Club Invitational, the lanky Korean-American admits it will be tougher and doubly challenging as the stakes go higher in the Solaire Philippine Open firing off on February 28, also at the TCC.
For one, the field will be aiming for a record title as Centennial champion of Asia’s first National Open and the organizing National Golf Association of the Philippines and Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. and the sponsoring Solaire Resort and Casino are guaranteeing no less than a blockbuster staging of the 100th edition of the blue-ribbon event by assembling a cast of former champions, a slew of foreign aces and the leading and rising Filipino shotmakers.
“It’s Asia’s oldest National Open and this one is special because it’s the 100th tournament,” said Thomas Arasi, president/CEO of Solaire Resort and Casino.
“That’s what Solaire is all about – creating meaningful events and milestones,” added Arasi of the upcoming event which offers a total pot of $600,000, a big jump from last year’s $400,000 purse, making it the richest Open in history.
Still, for the way he tamed the dreaded Tom Weiskoph-designed layout last week makes Shin, who scored a breakthrough in the 2016 CAT Open at Luisita then won an Asian Tour crown at Southwoods last year, one of the early marked players in the event steeped in championship lore and tradition.
“I’m looking forward to the Philippine Open. I really feel confident,” said Shin, 21, who became the youngest and first non-Filipino winner in the TCC Invitational by edging last year’s champion Miguel Tabuena by one last Saturday.
“This was actually a practice tournament for the PH Open,” said Shin.
If that’s the case, then Shin, who anchored his winning five-under 283 on superb long game, iron play and putting that produced a stirring 67 in the pivotal third round, could be in for a crack at the country’s most prestigious championship.
“He’s a good player and he deserved to win (the TCC Invitational),” said Tabuena, who ruled the rain-shortened Philippine Open at Luisita in 2015.
Meanwhile, last year’s PH Open champion Steve Lewton of England, who nipped American Johannes Veerman in a playoff, will lead the stellar cast although local fans hope for a Filipino victory in the fabled event’s Centennial staging.