Casas joins title hunt in Solaire Open

The Philippine Star

Posted at Mar 10 2014 07:47 PM | Updated as of Mar 11 2014 03:47 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Cassius Casas hopes to cash in on his return to form as he joins the hunt in the rich Solaire Open, upbeat of his title chances at The Country Club course where he beat an elite local field to snap a long title drought last month.

“My game is at a level where I want it to be and I’m happy with how I’ve been playing lately,” said Casas, who further boosted his confidence heading to this week’s $300,000 Solaire Open by regaining his Asian Tour card recently.

The ace Davaoeño shotmaker, who used to dominate the local circuit in the late 90s and early 2000s but whose game took a downswing with poor form and personal woes, regained his bearing late last year when he won and finished runner-up in the last two legs of last year’s ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour.

He then marked his 2014 campaign with an inspiring victory at The Country Club Invitational last month then earned his Asian Tour card by placing joint 18th in the recent AT Qualifying School.

That makes him more than ready for the second leg of this year’s Asian Tour sponsored by Solaire Resort and Casino, which unwraps Thursday (March 13) at the TCC layout, an open but tough course, especially in the presence of the wind.

“It feels great to earn my Asian Tour card because I haven’t played regularly on the circuit the last five years. I’m 47 years old but it doesn’t matter. I feel my game is good enough to play on the Asian Tour despite the presence of a lot of young players,” said Casas.

But he will face a different kind of challenge this week what with a crack international field in the fold, including defending champion Lin Wen Tang of Chinese-Taipei, Thai Arnond Vongvanij, Singaporean veteran Mardan Mamat, highly rated Baek Seuk-hyun of South Korea and Thai veteran Prayad Marksaeng.

Joining the foreign challenge are Anirban Lahiri of India, Nicholas Fung of Malaysia, Siddikur Rahman of Bangladesh, Taiwan’s Lu Wei-Chih, Japan’s Masahiro Kawamura, Thai Chawalit Plaphol, Korean Lee In-woo, American David Lipsky and Aussie Kiera Pratt.

Although three-time Asian Tour winner Angelo Que, also a three-time winner at TCC Invitational, and reigning back-to-back ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour Order of Merit champion Tony Lascuña remain the hot favorites among the local bets, Casas feels he now has what it takes to win an Asian Tour event.

“I feel good. My ball-striking and short game are quite okay and I feel confident of my chances,” said Casas.