Manila: Filipino legend Frankie Minoza believes the talented local hopes have the ability to win the US$300,000 ICTSI Philippine Open which starts on Thursday.
The decorated Minoza, playing on a sponsor’s invite, said the young generation of Filipinos, namely 16-year-old Miguel Tabuena, was fearless and stand a strong chance of running away with the title at the venerable Wack Wack Golf and Country Club.
“The current Philippine field is good and these young kids have no fear. They are very good and I think one of the Filipinos have a chance of winning this week,” said the 51-year-old Minoza.
He praised the dedication of Tabuena and said he has a bright future ahead of him. “Miguel hits the ball good and has a chance of going far in his career because he has a ‘big heart’,” said Minoza.
Minoza has won numerous titles across Asia but rates his victory at the 2007 Philippine Open as the highlight of his illustrious career.
“You have more pressure playing in your own country because everyone expects you to win so winning the Philippine Open in 2007 is definitely the best victory in my career,” added the veteran, who currently competes on the US Champions Tour after finishing second in Qualifying School last year.
Title holder Artemio Murakami, Angelo Que, winner of the 2008 Philippine Open and Juvic Pagunsan will also feature in this week’s Asian Tour tournament.
They will be joined by a strong cast of Asian Tour champions including Rikard Karlberg of Sweden, Australian Darren Beck, Chapchai Nirat of Thailand and Bangladeshi Siddikur, who have won a combined total of seven titles.
Since winning his first Asian Tour title in 2007, Murakami’s form has taken a dip but he is determined to turn the corner after seeking advice from former coaches Roger Retuerto, who is also the coach of Minoza and Bong Lopez.
“I’ve done well in the past few weeks and it looks like I’m playing well again. I want to keep my momentum until the end of the week and hopefully retain the title,” said Murakami.
Que, who finished in tied ninth place at the Avantha Masters in India in February, knows he needs to get his putter on fire to stand a chance of contending for the title he won three years ago.
“My putting has always been the problem. It has been on and off but I’ve still done relatively well. If I can get it working this week, I’ll be able to do well,” said the three-time Asian Tour champion.
“Every time I play on home soil, I try to play a level higher because you have the home crowd behind you. I think that motivates us to play better and gives us a strong chance of winning against the top guys from the Asian Tour,” added the 32-year-old.
Tabuena was the joint leader in last year’s edition of the Philippine Open before finishing a credible fourth place as an amateur. Since turning professional in February, he has made three out of three cuts and hopes to shine on home soil this week.
“I have the game to win because anything is possible. You have to break par to have a chance of winning and that will be my aim,” said last year’s silver medallist in the Asian Games in China.
He has been in the limelight since earning his Asian Tour card in Qualifying School in Thailand earlier this year and said the attention has provided him with the motivation to work harder.
“I’m very happy with how I played on the Asian Tour and all the positive news that I’ve received have motivated me to work harder on my game and try to excel out here in Asia,” he said.
Photo - Asian Tour
Asian Tour GolfGreedy.com