Miguel Tabuena hopes to buck fatigue and a field teeming with talent as he seeks his first The Country Club Invitational championship beginning Thursday at the newly refurbished TCC course in Laguna.
Tabuena struggled to finish at 16th the last time the rich event was held in 2014 before the exclusive layout underwent renovation. Now, 22 and winner of a number of pro tournaments, including the Philippine Open in late 2015, and toughened up by a series of stints abroad, Tabuena looms as one of the players to watch in the P5 million championship which gathers the country’s top shotmakers.
“There’s no doubt that I will give it my best shot. I want to win this tournament,” said Tabuena, relishing a “break” from a grueling campaign abroad that saw him compete in the Sony Open in Hawaii, the Singapore Open and the Myanmar Open the last three weeks.
“Even if it’s still a tournament (TCC Invitational), I’m happy to be playing at home this week. The fatigue factor will be present but my game is in good shape and it should be fun playing with the country’s best,” he added.
The elite list includes the event’s three-time winners – Angelo Que and Juvic Pagunsan, two-time champion Cassius Casas and former titlists Tony Lascuña, Frankie Miñoza and Artemio Murakami.
Others seeing action in the event, put up by ICTSI boss Ricky Razon in 2003 to honor the memory of his father and ICTSI founder Don Pocholo, himself an avid golfer, are the rest of the top 30 players in last year’s Order of Merit ranking of the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour.
They include Clyde Mondilla, Jay Bayron, Elmer Salvador, Zanieboy Gialon, Orlan Sumcad, Jhonnel Ababa, Jobim Carlos, Jerson Balasabas, Joenard Rates, Rene Menor, Marvin Dumandan, Michael Bibat, Mars Pucay, Charles Hong, Rufino Bayron, Justin Quiban, Mhark Fernnado, Arnold Villacencio, Albin Engino, Randy Garalde, Erwin Arcillas, Rolando Marabe Jr.
Meanwhile, the 2017 PGT and Ladies PGT will be launched in brief rites today (Wednesday) after the traditional pro-am tournament where the leading pros team up with the event’s chief backers and guests.
This will also mark the first time that the Tom Weiskoph-designed course will host a top-level tournament with the par-72 layout now longer and tougher after undergoing a major facelift the last two years. It can play to a maximum yardage of 8,000 yards from the back tees.
The 2017 PGT circuit will officially start on February 15 to 18 for the Anvaya Cove Invitational, which Tabuena won last year, while the LPGT will fire off on March 14 to 17 for the Champion Tour at Splendido Taal Golf Club.