MANILA, Philippines - Juvic Pagunsan hopes to win the Queen’s Cup firing off today to ease the pressure of being the reigning Asian Tour No. 1.
Pagunsan, 34, admits that being the top-ranked player in the region has weighed heavily on his shoulders.
“It’s big pressure to be at the top, even for me. You need to concentrate and play well to prove to people how you got in there is not by chance,” said Pagunsan.
But he added he’s ready and in top form, raring to slug it out with the region’s best players.
“I’m really excited to be playing. I’m hitting it good. Recently, I played well in Japan, finished fourth in the last couple of weeks,” said Pagunsan.
The Filipino ace, also the reigning OOM winner on the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour, headlines the $300,000 Asian Tour event at the Santiburi Samui Country Club which includes title holder Chawalit Plaphol of Thailand and six players – Prom Meesawat, Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand, Bangladeshi Siddikur, Australia’s Scott Hend and Anirban Lahiri of India – who are in the top-10 of the Order of Merit list.
With a smooth swing, Pagunsan rose to fame last season when he won the OOM crown behind a runner-up finish in the rich Singapore Open. But with one win in 2007 to his name, he wants to start winning again soon to justify his status as Asia’s top player.
“I’m still trying to be a better player. This course is tough. You need to hit it straight, which is a big challenge. If you miss your drive or miss your second shot, it’ll be tough to come back,” said Pagunsan.
The other Filipinos vying in the four-day championship are Angelo Que, Jay Bayron, Mars Pucay, Tony Lascuna and teener Miguel Tabuena, who has just won his second leg crown on the local circuit at ICTSI Eastridge Classic.
Chawalit, who has won twice here, is banking on his local knowledge to successfully defend his crown on the famous holiday isle.
“It’s a big tournament for Thai players. Everyone wants to win the Queen’s Trophy. There is no pressure as the defending champion. I’m quite relaxed,” said Chawalit. “However, my game isn’t so good now. The last few weeks, my driver wasn’t good but it’s starting to be okay now. I’m feeling confident as I’ve won here twice. I know the greens well, I know the slopes,” added the 37-year-old.