Young guns seek to sustain TCC run

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    IRA Alido and Keanu Jahns, two of the Philippine Golf Tour’s emerging stars, aim high in The Country Club Invitational, motivated by Koreans Micah Shin and Kim Joo Hyung’s escape acts in the last two editions of the circuit’s highlight event at the TCC course in Laguna.

    The P5 million event reels off Wednesday (March 4) with a select cast made up of the top 30 players in last year’s PGT Order of Merit ranking all geared up for four days of battle, including Alido and Jahns, both due for a big finish following impressive campaigns last year.

    Alido has posted a number of top five finishes to rank No. 6 in the OOM derby while Jahns also had a couple of runner-up efforts last year, including here where he lost by one to Kim, who humbled the country’s top players to become the young winner of the Phl’s richest championship outside of the Philippine Open at 17.

    Kim’s triumph likewise kept the TCC crown at the hands of the young Koreans following the then 21-year-old Shin’s similar one-stroke victory over Miguel Tabuena in 2018.

    The same tight, thrilling finish is again expected this week with Alido, 18, and Jahns, 23, hoping to put themselves into the early mix to get a crack at the championship in the event put up by ICTSI president/chairman Ricky Razon to honor the memory of his father and ICTSI founder Don Pocholo in 2003.

    But the duo will be as much tested as the rest of the field with Tony Lascuña and Frankie Miñoza shooting for their second TCC Invitational crown in the absence of a slew of former champions, including Angelo Que, Tabuena, Shin and Kim, who are all vying in Malaysia also this week.

    Lascuña, back in top form after a two-year slump, first and last won in 2004, barely nailing a second with a one-shot loss to Cassius Casas in 2014, making him hungry for a TCC crown.

    Miñoza, meanwhile, reigned in 2013 but the Del Monte legend has had not much success since. But back from a six-month hiatus, the 60-year-old ace said he’s playing again to serve as inspiration to the young Filipino players.

    Also tipped to contend for a first TCC diadem worth P1.5 million is Clyde Mondilla, who is coming off a record playoff victory at Pradera Verde last January. Also from Del Monte, the 26-year-old ace likewise has some kind of a push to go for the championship, having won the Philippine Open in harsh conditions at the TCC last year.