THE PHILIPPINE Open, Asia’s oldest national golf championship, just got a shot in the arm—a $700,000 (about P29 million) prize pot that would make it one of the most lucrative tournaments in the 2013 pro season.
With an unprecedented prize money, the Open is expected to lure more world-class talents to play, more so after the governing National Golf Association of the Philippines entered into a partnership with the fast-rising One Asia Tour.
The event was launched in simple rites yesterday at the Open’s old home, Wack Wack, which will make the East course available to the top-tier field in November and make it one of the final legs of the 2013 One Asia season.
Tommy Manotoc, the NGAP president, and David Parkins, One Asia’s director of operations, made the announcement yesterday together with MVP Sports Foundation president Al Panlilio and vice president Chot Reyes, and Wack Wack vice president Butch Campos.
“This is historic and it has never been done before,” Manotoc said of the prize money. “It wasn’t easy, and I lost a few friends along the way in doing it. But (Philippine) golf needs it.”
The MVP Sports Foundation of tycoon Manny V. Pangilinan has now included golf as one of its beneficiaries and is throwing its full support to Manotoc’s program that puts premium on grassroots development.
The International Container Terminal Services, Inc. is the other major backer of the championship.
“The MVPSF’s vision is to help the country produce its first Olympic gold (medal),” Panlilio said.
“In 2016 (Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), we feel that we have a shot in golf,” added Reyes, the multititled PBA coach and now mentor of the Smart Gilas program.
Part of the plan to strengthen the Open field is for One Asia and the NGAP to bring in Jason Day, the Fil-Australian star who finished second at the 2011 Masters in Augusta.
Campos guaranteed that the East course will continue to be a tough test for the field.
Singapore’s Mardan Mamat is the reigning PH Open champion, finishing with an eight-under 280 total last February in the event that only dangled a $300,000 pot.