The Country Club Invitational, long considered a major championship for its prize fund and stellar cast, fires off February 14, kicking off the new season of the Philippine Golf Tour at the exclusive TCC layout in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.
Miguel Tabuena nipped three-time champion Juvic Pagunsan in a thrilling finish last year, joining the elite circle of winners in what has become the country’s most awaited championship outside of the Solaire Philippine Open.
The same ending is expected in the P5 million tournament, put up by ICTSI boss Ricky Razon in 2003 to honor the memory of his father and ICTSI founder Don Pocholo with the select cast, composed of the top 30 players from last year’s PGT Order of Merit ranking and past TCC Invitational champions, all coming into the event in top shape following the start of the PGT Asia early this month.
The elite list includes the event’s three-time winners —Angelo Que and Juvic Pagunsan and former titlists Tony Lascuña, Frankie Miñoza and Artemio Murakami. Inaugural Cassius Casas, however, won’t be around due to health reasons.
Still, the roster is teeming with talent with reigning OOM winner Clyde Mondilla headlining the roster of challengers along with in-form Jhonnel Ababa, back-to-back winner of the PGT Asia at Eagle Ridge and Pradera Verde, Zanieboy Gialon, Jay Bayron, Rene Menor, Michael Bibat and Elmer Salvador.
Although it has staged a major tournament in the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour late last year, this will only mark the third time that the Tom Weiskoph-designed course will host a top-level men’s tournament after it underwent a major facelift in 2015-16.
Tabuena’s winning score last year was 13-over 301 total although Englishman Steve Lewton, however, snared the Solaire Philippine Open crown at TCC with a one-under 287 aggregate, nipping American Johannes Veerman in sudden death.
The upcoming event will also officially kick off the 2018 PGT and Ladies PGT season starting with the ICTSI Eagle Ridge Invitational next month. The LPGT actually started its new season with legs at Ayala Greenfield and Beverly Place last month.
Others vying in the TCC Invitational are Jerson Balasabas, Orlan Sumcad, Keanu Jahns, Ferdie Aunzo, Jobim Carlos, James Ryan Lam, Rufino Bayron, Ira Alido, Omar Dungca, Joenard Rates, Charles Hong, Arnold Villacencio, Mhark Fernando, Erwin Arcillas and Albin Engino.
The TCC Invitational will also serve as tune-up for those vying in the grand Centennial Solaire Philippine Open on February 28 to March 3, also at the TCC layout.