Juvic Pagunsan relishes Hong Kong Open return | Inquirer Sports

Juvic Pagunsan relishes Hong Kong Open return

/ 11:12 PM November 21, 2011

KUALA LUMPUR—Juvic Pagunsan is relishing a return to the UBS Hong Kong Open next week as he continues his pursuit of a historic Asian Tour Order of Merit crown.

The Filipino ace extended his lead in the rankings after tying for 38th at the Iskandar Johor Open on Sunday as closest challenger SSP Chowrasia of India, claiming illness, withdrew from the tournament after shooting a horrendous 80 in the first round.

The Hong Kong showpiece, which offers a lucrative prize fund of $2.75 million, will be played at the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling from Dec. 1 to 4. It is the penultimate event on the Asian Tour schedule before the $1-million Thailand Golf Championship from Dec. 15 to 18.

“I’ve played well in the last two weeks, but I had a few bad shots in the second and third rounds in Johor, which spoiled my card,” said Pagunsan. “The goal was to give myself a bigger lead on the Order of Merit, and I guess I achieved that. I have a slight advantage now with two more tournaments to go.”


He rose to the top of the Merit list with an eye-catching runner-up performance—worth $666,660 (P28.93 million)—at the $6-million Barclays Singapore Open two weeks ago. He now has accumulated $733,298 this season, about $288,000 ahead of second-ranked Chowrasia.

It was in Hong Kong in 2006 that the 33-year-old Pagunsan first shot to prominence as he challenged for the championship before settling for second place. He was named Rookie of the Year that season, and he went on to claim his only Asian Tour title to date at the Indonesian President Invitational in 2007.

Pagunsan, who is attempting to become the first Filipino to win the Asian Tour Order of Merit, will enjoy a break at home this week before heading to the UBS Hong Kong Open.

“There’s an empty week for me but I won’t be resting,” he said. “I’ll be practicing hard for the next two events.”


The late Filipino legend Ben Arda in the ’70s and Frankie Miñoza in the ’90s also topped the Order of Merit of the defunct Asian Golf Circuit.

“I’m looking forward to Hong Kong,” said Pagunsan. “I’ll always remember Hong Kong as the place where I first had my best finish on the Asian Tour. The course is a very difficult place to play on. You can easily get into trouble and drop shots. You have to putt well there,” said Pagunsan.


While the focus is very much on the race to become Asia’s new No. 1, the fight to finish in the top-60 of the rankings is also heating up.

Filipino teenager Miguel Tabuena moved up to 61st place with a tied 29th finish in Johor while Chinese Taipei veteran Lu Wen-teh is sitting on the bubble at 60th position.

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TAGS: Golf, HK, Iskandar Johor Open, Juvic Pagunsa, Miguel Tabuena, Philippines, Sports, UBS Hong Kong Open

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