February 25, 2018, 3:44 am
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TCC Invit’l unfolds; tight finish expected

STA. ROSA, Laguna. — An elite cast slugs it out beginning today, all aiming for a hot start and the momentum in what promises to be an explosive launch to the new ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour season through the P5 million The Country Club Invitational at the TCC course here.  

The former champions, save for one, and the top players from last year’s PGT Order of Merit ranking are all here, eager to test not only each other’s shotmaking and putting skills but also the exacting course in pursuit of one of the most coveted championships in Philippine golf.

Miguel Tabuena sees another wild finish the way it was last year when he pooled a wind-blown 13-over 301 total and snatched a one-stroke victory after three-time champion Juvic Pagunan fumbled with a bogey on the 72nd hole for his first TCC crown.

“TCC’s only defense is the wind, which creates a lot of problems for us,” said Tabuena, bracing for another grueling four-day battle of wits at the Tom Weiskoph-designed layout, which underwent a major facelift in 2015-16.

Pagunsan, meanwhile, begged off at the last minute, complaining of noise-induced hearing loss following a stint at a firing range.

Still, the depth of the field remains as talent-laden as ever and the chase for the top P1.5 million purse is expected to go down to the last shot or putt with the lesser-fancied but equally talented players all raring to prove their worth in the 72-hole championship put up by ICTSI president and chairman Ricky Razon in 2003 to honor the memory of his father and ICTSI founder Don Pocholo.

They include Micah Shin of the US, veterans Jay Bayron and Elmer Salvador, American Nicolas Paez, Japanese Toru Nakajima, and Dutch Guido Van der Valk along with young guns Keanu Jahns, Jobim Carlos and Ira Alido.

“Nobody is a sure bet to win here. The course is long and tough and the greens are so sleek and undulating. It would require a solid game overall to score and contend,” said Antonio Lascuna, one of the favorites.

Meanwhile, Razon formally launched this year’s PGT, the Ladies PGT and the second PGT Asia in rites graced by the cream of the pro crop after yesterday’s TCC Invitational pro-am. More than 35 tournaments have been lined up for the three circuits to be highlighted by the staging of the Centennial Solaire Philippine Open on Feb. 28-March 3, also at the TCC.
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