Manila, February 25: Home hero Frankie Minoza headlines the US$150,000 DHL Philippine Open starting on Thursday with high expectations from local fans weighing on his shoulders.
The Filipino star won his home Open in 1998 and is determined to regain Asia oldest national Open title at Riviera Golf and Country Club. While he will face challenges from some of the region in-form players, Minoza acknowledges that the pressure to perform on home soil will be tremendous.
looking forward to it. But I know I’ll have more pressure as everyone always expects Frankie to win at home,?said Minoza.
Reigning champion Rick Gibson of Canada and India Jyoti Randhawa, Asia number one in 2002, are amongst the other top contenders in the Philippine Open, which is part of the Asian Tour.
Several former champions including Filipino duo Felix Casas and Gerald Rosales and Anthony Kang of Korea are also in this weeks event.
The 44-year-old Minoza has plied his trade in Japan for more than a decade, winning six titles with his last tournament success being the 2001 Fuji Sankei Classic. However last season, he did not contend as regularly as he would have liked to.
struggled in Japan last year with my putting but managed to keep my card. Im still working hard at my game and feel I still have a few wins left in me. Its just a matter of luck,?said Minoza, who played in all four rounds of the Myanmar Open two weeks ago which was his first event of 2004.
The Philippine Open was not staged last year and Gibson, winner of the event in 2002, is tipped to put on a strong title defence. He won by four shots at Wack Wack Golf and Country Club and has fared steadily in Asia since then, finishing eighth and 13th on the money ranking in the last two years.
Randhawa finished joint second in last months tri-sanctioned Johnnie Walker Classic and many expect him to challenge for this weeks title.
Many famous names are inscribed on the Philippine Open trophy including Carlos Franco of Paraguay, Australian Peter Thomson, Taiwans Lu Liang-huan, better known as Mr Lu? and other legendary Filipino golfers such as Celestino Tugot and Ben Arda.