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Mondilla chases TCC Invit’l crown

‘My game plan is to play a good round every day.’

Motivated by crushing setbacks, Clyde Mondilla never runs out of patience in pursuit of a championship missing in his trophy collection as he revs up for another possible shot at The Country Club Invitational crown starting Tuesday at the TCC course in Laguna.

“As much as possible, I practice daily — fairways in the morning then range in the afternoon,” said Mondilla, who had squandered two clear cracks at the title in the last two editions of the Philippine Golf Tour’s flagship tournament.

He co-led with young Korean Tom Kim in the third round in 2019 but wavered with a 76 in the final round and wound up third behind the now PGA Tour star and Keanu Jahns.

The 2010 national amateur champion also lost by one to Guido van Der Valk in 2020 before the event took a forced two-year break due to the pandemic.

But heading to the record P6 million championship, Mondilla admits he remains far from reaching top form, saying: “Even if I practice every day, I still have so much to improve on.”

With 12 titles under his belt, however, including the Philippine Open in 2019, also at TCC, Mondilla looms as one of the marked players from among the elite cast spearheaded by five former winners, including one of the event’s two three-time champion Juvic Pagunsan (2006, 2008 and 2012).

Others going for a second championship are 2013 winner Frankie Miñoza, multi-titled Tony Lascuña (2004) and Micah Shin, who became the first non-Filipino winner of the event put up by ICTSI chairman and CEO Ricky Razon in 2003 to honor his father and ICTSI founder Don Pocholo, when he nipped 2017 titlist Miguel Tabuena by one in 2018.

Van der Valk, on the other hand, isn’t only chasing a second TCC diadem but is also out to sustain an impressive 2022 campaign that saw him snare two titles at Splendido Taal and at Pradera Verde to emerge the top player after the seven-leg season.

Like the rest of the stellar 30-player field, Mondilla stresses the need to dish out a superb all-around game to fuel his title drive, given the challenges and terrors lurking in every corner of the exacting par-72 layout.

“My game plan is to play a good round every day. We know how tough TCC is but that’s the challenge for us, it’s the toughest course in the country, and to be able break par, one needs to be solid not just in driving and irons but in short game as well,” Mondilla said.

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