The Philippine Open is the barometer of the country’s local professional golf. And the fact that it hasn’t been staged for the past four years clearly indicates its bad state of health.
That’s why the news of its return — in the next several months, according to sources — is welcomed by many like a shot of ephedrine onto a hardly beating heart.
This early, the prognosis is already rosy. Talks abound that the Philippine Open will be held next February as part of the Asian Tour.
Easily, that means it could dangle $300,000 prize money, the going rate in the Tour.
The National Golf Association of the Philippines, the franchise holder of the Philippine Open, is keeping its cards close to its chest. But already insiders said it is talking with several stakeholders including AT and the Manila Southwoods, the most likely venue.
Sources said the continental circuit is willing to once again include the Philippine Open in its calendar in a nod to the country’s ever-growing golf market.
The Philippine Open used to be the kickoff leg of the Tour, and from which players derive world ranking points.
In its absence, local pros only have a handful of pocket tournaments to play, including ICTSI’s Philippine Golf Tour.
Clyde Mondilla was the last player to have won the Solaire-sponsored Philippine Open during its 2019 edition held at The Country Club in Canlubang.
However, it was in 2015 when the Open was last staged with the Asian Tour at Luisita where Tabuena reigned supreme.
From 2017-2019, the PGT staged the localized Open with a handful of foreign players participating. Winners then were Steve Lewton 2017, Miguel Tabuena 2018, and Mondilla 2019, all at TCC.
Southwoods hosted the Open in 1993 (won by Taiwanese Yeh Chang-ting) with the Asian Golf Circuit, the group before it became Asian Tour; 1994 (Carlos Franco); 1996 (Aussie Rob Whitlock) and 1999 (American Anthony Kang).