Filipino golfers to boost Olympic hopes at Resort World Masters

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Filipino pros aspiring to qualify for next year’s Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games will take advantage of the hometown crowd and course conditions when the third edition of the Resorts World Manila Masters tees off November 19 to 22 at the Manila Southwoods Golf and Country Club.

Asian Tour chief executive officer Mike Kerr said on Wednesday, August 26, that the $1-million golf tournament, one of the premier stops of the tour, would be ideal for the local pros aiming to firm up or raise their world golf rankings in their bid to make it to the Rio Games.

Golf is making a comeback to the quadrennial sports showcase since it was held more than a century ago at the 1904 St. Louis Olympics.

“We know that a number of Filipino pros are bidding to make it to Rio so the Resort World Masters would fitting since they will be playing on a familiar course and in front of a hometown crowd,” Kerr said at the press launch of the event held at the Mariott Hotel Grand Ballroom in Pasay City.

Asian Tour regulars Angelo Que, the 2008 Philippine Open champion, and Tony Lascuna are currently ranked No. 50 and No. 56, respectively, in the world golf rankings.

Based on the Olympic qualifying process for golf, the top 60 pro golfers worldwide, and a maximum of two players per country, by July 2016 can compete in the Rio Olympic golf tournament.

Flirting to reach the elite 60 circle are former national amateur team mainstay Juvic Pagunsan and young pro Miguel Tabuena, who are also likely to see action at the par-72, par-72, 6,896-yard Masters layout designed by the legendary Jack Nicklaus, Kerr added.

Asian Tour chief executive officer Mike Kerr, who also graced the event, said that the tournament would be a good occasion for Filipino golfers seeking to compete next year’s Rio Olympics, where golf is making a comeback since it was last held in the 1904 St. Louis Games.

On the other hand, Asian Tour communications director Chua Choo Chiang disclosed that a maximum of 14 ranking points will be awarded to the champion plus the $180,000 purse to go with it, while up to the top 20 finishers will also get points during the four-day golf fest.

“It has always been our commitment to champion the Filipino and we hope our Filipino golfers would earn valuable ranking points at the Resort World Manila Masters to enhance their hopes of playing in the Olympics,” Resorts World Manila chief executive officer Stephen Reilly said at the same occasion.

“The pros can expect firm fairways and fast greens as what a championship course should be,” noted Manila Southwoods Golf Club chairman Bob Soprebena, who also joined the press briefing.

Sobrepena assured the golfers that “our course superintendent John Cope has done a fantastic job over the past two years to ensure our Masters course is in prime condition for the event that we’ve witnessed some wonderful scoring by the Asian Tour stars.”

Kerr said that aside from the local aces, he expects veteran defending champion Mardan Mamat of Singapore and the tour’s other big guns to come over and compete in the 72-hole tournament.

While the Asian Tour executive noted that low scores marked the previous stagings of the event, he says “there is no doubt that the Masters layout is a challenging course. It is the pros who make it look easy.”

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