Focus on Que as Solaire Open begins

By Abac Cordero, The Philippine Star

Posted at Mar 13 2014 08:55 AM | Updated as of Mar 13 2014 04:55 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Angelo Que need not say it but on the eve of the second Solaire Open the Filipino golf ace reminded everyone he knows how to win at The Country Club.

“I’ve won here three times,” said Que during the final press conference of the star-studded event that tees off today at the wind-raked TCC in Canlubang.

Que, a three-time titlist in the Asian Tour and seeking his first win since 2010, is the only player to win three times at exclusive and well-kept course.

Now he’s wearing a bullseye on his back.

“You have to look at Angelo Que because he won there before,” said American Berry Henson, winner of the 2011 ICTSI Philippine Open.

Benson, who sat beside Que at the head table, must have jotted it down somewhere when the long-hitting Filipino bared the key to winning at The Country Club.

“I always hit the ball long and made a lot of putts. And it’s no joke because the wind was howling,” said Que.

The others at the head table, including reigning champion Lin Wen-Tang of Chinese Taipei, the great Frankie Miñoza and 19-year-old Miguel Tabuena, could only listen.

Thomas Arasi, president and chief operating officer of Solaire Resort & Casino, and Kyi Hla Han, chairman of the Asian Tour, also graced the press conference.

For Benson and the other foreign players competing in this Asian Tour leg, it will be their first tournament at The Country Club.

But it doesn’t mean they didn’t come prepared.

Lin, 39, knew what to expect and how he would deal with the winds.

He said he spent the last month hitting 1,000 low balls a day. He said hitting low balls will serve him well under windy conditions.

“I’m here to defend the title. It will be challenging for me but I’m a very stable player,” said the Taiwanese as he looked forward to the event also backed by DMCI Homes, BDO, PLDT and Meralco.

Benson said he played the course twice since he flew in during the weekend, and by now he already has an idea what it really offers.

“This course is a new experience for us. The greens are quick and the winds are strong. A lot of us haven’t played here we have to get used to that real quick to compete with Angelo Que and the other Filipino players,” he said.

“I think the wind is going to be a factor this week and trying to judge the speed of the green. The player that figures that out the quickest is going to have a good chance to win,” he added.

Miñoza, who adds prestige to any tournament he joins, is playing it safe.

“When you become 52 years old the chances of winning get smaller and smaller,” he admitted. “Som I just go out there and play try my best and see what happens.”

Tabuena, on the other hand, said he has high hopes in this tournament offering $54,000 to the champion.

“I always believe I have the chance. But it’s hard because the top players in Asia are here. I have to play really well. I have to make those putts,” he said.

Other contenders include two-time Order of Merit winner Thaworn Wirachant of Thailand, Prayad Marksaeng, Japan’s Masahiro Makamura, 18-year-old Jazz Janewattananond, also of Thailand, Nicholas Fung of Malaysia, David Lipsky of the United States, Baek Seuk-hyun of South Korea, Singaporean veteran Mardan Mamat and Bangladeshi star Siddikur Rahman.

Also carrying the fight for the Philippines are Jay Bayron, the 2012 Asian Development Tour Order of Merit winner, two-time ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour winner Tony Lascuña and resurgent Cassius Casas.

Juvic Pagunsan, again, will not be around.