Pros gear up for Asia’s oldest golfing event, the Philippine Open

Bukidnon Province’s Frankie Minoza and company get their final chance to test the tough Valley Golf Club layout in the Philippine Open pro-am tournament on Tuesday, Dec. 14, hoping to make the necessary adjustments in their respective games in time for Wednesday’s start of the P2 million event.

The par-72 championship layout offers a different kind of challenge to the strong 120-player field with its rolling hills, meandering brooks and unpredictable putting surface. This marks the fourth time that VGC will stage the Open after hosting it in 1975, 1983 and 1991.

Minoza, chasing his third Open crown in 12 years, looms as the player to beat in the country’s premier and Asia’s oldest golfing event owning to his form which netted him a spot in next year’s US Seniors Champions Tour.

Others seeing action in the 18-hole pro-am are defending champion Elmer Salvador of Davao City and title contenders Artemio Murakami, Marvin Dumandan, Benjie Magada, former champion Cassius Casas, Ferdie Aunzo, Rey Pagunsan and young turks Antonio Asistio II, Gene Bondoc, Michael Bibat.

They will be paired with the amateurs making up the event’s sponsors, VIPs, Valley Golf Club members and NGAP board members with fabulous prizes staked for both the pros and their amateur partners.

Keen competition is seen in the tournament proper with no one holding a distinct advantage over a course that also changes in character, especially in the presence of the wind.

The event is sponsored by San Miguel Corp. and backed by Pagcor, Orient Pearl, Amalgated Motors (Phils.)  Inc., Mercedes Benz, Mitsubishi, Rudy Project, EFC and friends of NGAP and Club Car Phls. as hole-in-one sponsor and A Round of Golf as media partner. Motorola is the event’s 2-way radio supplier.

The Phl Open will also mark the debut for former national champion and many-time Phl team spearhead Mhark Fernando while a host of jungolfers will also be joining the title hunt as part of their training under the NGAP youth program.

Miguel Tabuena, who won the silver medal in the recent Asian Games, heads the youth brigade that includes the likes of  Andres Saldana, Miggy Yee, Jobim Carlos, AR Ramos, Jahns Keanu and reigning national champion Clyde Mondilla.

Focus will also be on the young golfers headed by Miguel Tabuena and the youngest player in the field  11-year-old Lester Lagman, a Junior World campaigner in San Diego and in the Optimist Junior International in Florida.(pr)

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