The Solaire Philippine Open, the country’s premier golf championship, gears up for another blockbuster staging and thrilling ending at The Country Club when it begins its journey to a new century with a stellar international cast being firmed up.
Filipino ace Miguel Tabuena nipped veteran Prom Meesawat of Thailand in sudden death to highlight the milestone Centennial staging of the event at the TCC last year with the same finish expected when the 101st Open is held April 3-6.
The 2017 Open also went over the distance with Englishman Steve Lewton edging American Johannes Veerman in a playoff, also at the well-kept Tom Weiskoph-designed layout, with the same windup likely to ensue in the upcoming event sponsored by Solaire Resort and Casino.
“More than 50 percent of the field which vied last year will all be coming over again with the 2019 cast to be toughened up by new, crack international players,” said Colo Ventosa, general manager of Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc., which co-organizes the event with the National Golf Association of the Philippines.
Solaire Resort and Casino, headed by president/CEO Thomas Arasi, and the NGAP, now led by president Martin Lorenzo, have recently inked a pact to jointly stage the 2019 Open with the former bankrolling $500,000 to put up the four-day championship, which also serves as part of the Philippine Golf Tour Asia.
Lorenzo and NGAP secretary-general Bones Floro have reiterated their full support to ensure the smooth and successful staging of the fabled event, which will feature former champions and mainstays of the other regional tours seeking to join the elite circle of winners in Asia’s oldest National Open and at the same time test a challenging course that doesn’t favor any particular style of play.
Tabuena will actually shoot for a third Open diadem, nailing his first in abbreviated fashion when he ruled the rain-shortened championship at Luisita in 2015. He wound up joint fifth in 2017 but pulled off a memorable victory in the event’s Centennial edition.
But the Rio Olympic Games veteran will be as much tested as the rest of the field, which includes the country’s other top guns, led by former titlist Angelo Que and reigning PGT Order of Merit winner Jobim Carlos along with the likes of Jhonnel Ababa, Clyde Mondilla, Tony Lascuña and Jay Bayron.
Korean-American Micah Shin, who became the first non-Filipino winner of the TCC Invitational when he foiled Tabuena also last year, is also expected to join the title hunt along with PGT and PGT Asia campaigners Kim Joo Hyung of Korea, Dutch Guido Van der Valk, Nicolas Paez of the US and Aussie Tim Stewart.