The 99th Solaire Philippine Open unwraps on Thursday, and many believe there is no tougher course to host country’s premier championship – and Asia’s oldest National Open – than The Country Club whose length and wind factor put stern options on shotmaking, precision and mental toughness.
Days leading to the $400,000 event, sponsored by Solaire Resort and Casino and held in cooperation with Meralco and PLDT, the wind had been blowing in various directions with the organizing Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. expecting the condition to get more challenging and daunting during the Open weekend.
“The wind had been unpredictable the past few days but we’re expecting it to whip up during the weekend,” said PGTI and TCC general manager Colo Ventosa.
The first time the TCC hosted a premier event after undergoing a two-year renovation to conform to world standard, it yielded a baffling 13-over 301 winning total posted by Miguel Tabuena three weeks ago.
But Ventosa thinks that with a talent-laden international field, including the cream of the local crop, an under-par winning total of one- or two-under can be achieved.
“I really cannot tell. Hopefully, it won’t be as over as the TCC Invitational. I think an under-par score can be done since there are several strong hitters from among the foreigners,” said Ventosa.
She also expressed hopes that the locals will be able to hold their own against the crack foreign field, pointing to Angelo Que, aside from Tabuena, as the best Filipino bet for the crown.
“I think Angelo (Que) has a chance based on his performance at Anvaya recently,” she added, referring to the three-time Asian Tour winner’s solid stint at the ICTSI Anvaya Cove Invitational where he routed the elite field and won by nine at the wind-swept Anvaya Cove Golf and Sports Club in Bataan.
But the TCC layout could be thrice as tougher than Anvaya with its length, measuring up to 7735 yards, and the wind expected to provide a true test of golf, not to mention the course’s sleek, undulating putting surface.
“I think course management is premium to win this tournament. They have to play their game and strike when the opportunity presents itself,” said Ventosa.
Meanwhile, a select roster of players will test the TCC in today’s (Wednesday) traditional pro-am tournament where the leading pros will be paired with officials and guests of the event’s chief backers, including Pioneer Insurance, Lexus, BDO, Sharp, Custom Clubmaker, KZG, Empire Golf and Titleist.
Former Phl Open champions Marcus Both of Australia and Singapore’s Mardan Mamat lead the chase for the top $72,000 purse in the four-day championship sanctioned by the National Golf Association of the Philippines, along with other fancied bets from Thailand, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, England, Scotland, Finland, China, Guatemala, Canada, Singapore, South Africa, Ireland, Macedonia, Colombia, Bangladesh, the Netherlands, Myanmar, Venezuela and the US.
This year’s Open also serves as a preview of the Solaire Philippine Open’s Centennial in 2018 with the PGTI, Solaire and NGAP guaranteeing a grand staging of the fabled event.