Despite strong finishes in two Asian Tour events and a runner-up effort in last week’s The Country Club Invitational, Miguel Tabuena still feels the need to get better to bolster his bid for a second Solaire Philippine Open crown in four years.
In fact, the Rio Olympics veteran said he’s going back to the basics and work on his game in anticipation of a tougher, more challenging battle for golfing supremacy in the country’s premier championship which unfolds February 28 at the wind-raked Tom Weiskoph-designed layout.
“My game has to be ready. So I have to go back to the drawing board and play better because that’s (PH Open) more of an international field,” said Tabuena after falling short of his title-repeat drive at TCC, losing by one to Korean-American Micah Shin.
The 24-year-old former Philippine Golf Tour Order of Merit champion joined the elite roster of Phl Open winners with a victory at Luisita in 2015 when the event was reduced to 54 holes to due weather condition.
He believes he’s ready for another shot at the crown – via full route – when the $600,000 event, backed by title sponsor Solaire Resort and Casino, is held at the exacting TCC course in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.
“I’m actually happy overall with my game. I’ve been playing solid,” said Tabuena, who placed eighth in the Singapore Open and ended up tied at 14th in the Myanmar Open last month.
But while he believes he’s got what it takes to get another crack at the Phl Open title, Tabuena stressed the need to be well prepared against a best-assembled field ever to play in the fabled event.
Six former champions, a slew of foreign and local aces have confirmed participation in the blue-ribbon tournament, all chasing for a record title as Centennial champion of Asia’s first National Open co-organized by National Golf Association of the Philippines and Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. and sponsored by ICTSI, Meralco, PLDT, Smart, Bulgari, Diamond Motor Corp., BDO, Central Azucarera de Tarlac, Amon Trading, Dynamic Sports and Custom Clubmakers.
“I’m sure all the players would prepare better, too. Most have an idea of the course and what the winds will do. I have to prepare better,” said Tabuena.
Meanwhile, last year’s Phl Open champion Steve Lewton of England, who nipped American Johannes Veerman in a playoff, will lead the stellar cast although local fans are hoping for a Filipino victory in the event’s Centennial staging.
Mardan Mamat won the Phl Open at Wack Wack in 2012 at 44 with the veteran Singaporean campaigner back in the Phl Open mix next week, together with fellow 2014 titlist Marcus Both of Australia, along with Thais Pasavee Lertvilai and Wisut Artjanawat, Americans Seungjae Maeng, John Michael O’Toole and Nicolas Paez, Indonesians Andrew Wireman and Ian Andrew, and Aussies David Gleeson, Andrew Campbell and Nathan Park and Singapore’s Choo Tze Huang and Dengshan Koh and the rising Shin.