Despite boasting of world-caliber players, Thailand has never scored victory in the Solaire Philippine Open. But the country’s chief rival in various regional competitions is determined to end it all this week with a full 24-player roster all primed up for the $400,000 event firing off Thursday at The Country Club in Laguna.
Jazz Janewattananond, No. 17 in the current Asian Tour Order of Merit Ranking, banners the crack Thai contingent in the country’s premier championship – and Asia’s oldest National Open – which unwraps Thursday at the par-72 Tom Weiskoph-designed course spruced up to championship form.
Ittiphat Buranatanyarat, who won the Asian Development Tour leg at Sherwood in 2015, is also in the fold together with Chinnarat Phadungsil, who at 17 became the youngest winner on the Asian Tour when he ruled the Double A International Open at home in 2005 as an amateur.
Thaworn Wiratchant, meanwhile, hopes to provide the experience and poise for the Thai delegation but the 18-time Asian Tour champion, now 51, will have to slug it out with the young but long hitters in the event sponsored by Solaire Resort and Casino and held in cooperation with Meralco and PLDT.
Other Thais seeing action are Arnond Vongvanij, Atthaphon Sriboonkaew Chanat Sakulpolphaisan, Chawalit Plaphol, Gunn Charoenkul, Kevin Techakanokboon, Namchok Tantipokhakul, Panakorn Uthaipas, Panuwat Muenlek, Peradol Panyathanasedh, Piya Swangarunporn, Poom Saksanin, Poosit Supupramai, Raththee Sirithankunsak, Rattanon Wannasrichan, Sattaya Supupramai, Suradit Yongcharoenchai, Sutijet Kooratanapisan and Thammanoon Sriroj.
Meanwhile, Australia, which ruled three of the last 10 Phl Open, is fielding in six, including 2014 champion Marcus Both, while Taiwan has seven players, including 1993 winner Yeh Chang-ting and 2014 Solaire Open champion Lin Wen-tang.
Other countries represented in the blue-ribbon event, backed by Pioneer Insurance, Lexus, BDO, Sharp, Custom Clubmaker, KZG, Empire Golf and Titleist, are 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, making it truly international in scope.
2015 champion Miguel Tabuena and former three-time Asian Tour winner Angelo Que and reigning Philippine Golf Tour Tony Lascuña headline the local challenge, along with Clyde Mondilla, Jay Bayron, Elmer Salvador and former champions Frankie Miñoza, Cassius Casas, Gerald Rosales and Robert Pactolerin.
Organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. in cooperation with the National Golf Association of the Philippines, the Solaire Philippine Open is staking a top purse of $72,000 (P3.6 million) with the event also serving as a preview of the Solaire Philippine Open’s grand centennial staging in 2018.