By WAYLON GALVEZ
STA. ROSA, Laguna – Philippine Open champion Clyde Mondilla heads a solid cast that will aim for the title and the top purse in The Country Club Invitational Wednesday at the TCC course here.
Mondilla, who won with a two-over total for his first Open championship last year, expects a tough competition as the event gathers Philippine Golf Tour Order of Merit’s Top 30 from last year.
“It’s a tough competition kasi madami naman na magagaling sa tour. Also alam naman natin gaano kahirap and golf course – mahaba at mahangin,” said Mondilla, who won at Pradera Verda in PGT Asia last January.
Aside from Mondilla, also seeing action in the P5 million event are former TCC champions, Tony Lascuña and Korean-American Micah Shin.
Lascuña had three impressive victories late last year, including one in PGT Asia in Taiwan and he is optimistic on going up against the best in the tour for the top prize of P1.5 million.
Lascuña won here in 2004, and nearly duplicated that feat in 2014 but lost to Cassius Casas.
“Medo matagal-tagal na nga yung last na nanalo ako, pero mahirap na din kasi. Marami ng magagaling na bata. Pero tignan natin, maganda naman laro ko sa mga nakaraang buwan,” said Lascuña.
The 23-year-old Shin, for his part, won here two years ago when he bested top Filipino bet Miguel Tabuena in this event put up by ICTSI president and chairman Ricky Razon in 2003 to honor the memory of his father and ICTSI founder Don Pocholo Razon.
Frankie Miñoza also won here in 2013 by beating the Bayrons brothers – Jay and Rufino – on the second playoff hole. A former Philippine Open champion, he likewise eyes a solid performance in this event.
Miñoza and Lascuña drew each other in one of the featured flights alongside Dutch Guido Van der Valk, No. 3 in last year’s OOM, at 9:30 a.m., after the 9:20 a.m. group of Michael Bibat, Reymon Jaraula and Ira Alido.
The 18-year-old Alido is among the young players expected to deliver great performance, alongside Keanu Jahns, the 23-year-old who posted two runner-up finishes last year, including in the Philippine Open.
Mondilla is in the group with Jahns and Jhonnel Ababa at 9:10 a.m. while teeing off at 8:50 a.m. are Jay Bayron, James Ryan Lam and Fidel Concepcion, followed by the group of Rufino Bayron, Nilo Salahog and Richard Sinfuego.
Completing the cast are Elmer Salvador, Rico Depilo, Albin Engino Ferdie Aunzo, Jerson Balasabas, Rene Menor, Zanieboy Gialon, Mhark Fernando, Paul Echavez, Marcos Pastor of Spain, Gerald Rosales, American Lexus Keoninh, Joenard Rates, Art Arbole and Rupert Zaragosa.