Pagunsan, world megastars open pursuit of golf gold | Inquirer Sports

Pagunsan, world megastars open pursuit of golf gold

/ 05:10 AM July 29, 2021

Hideki Matsuyama hopes to replicate his Masters win in Tokyo. —AFP

TOKYO—Juvic Pagunsan will start his chase for Olympic glory on Thursday against a field headed by certified superstars and millionaires of golf all young enough to be his sons.

Already 43 years old, Pagunsan has been tagged as a longshot here against the likes of British Open champ Collin Morikawa of the United States, Masters titlist Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy. For someone whose career has been marked by strange twists, Pagunsan hopes to ride a “lucky year” that has seen him win his first title on the Japan Tour after 10 years last May. His victory in the Mizuno Open eventually earned him a spot in the Olympics as it propelled him high up in the world rankings, enough to be included in the elite 60-man roster.


Troubles in the past

The last time he played for the national team as an amateur, Pagunsan was a double gold medal in the 2005 Southeast Asian Games the country hosted at The Country Club. He turned pro the following year and went on to stamp his class, winning the Asian Tour OOM in 2011.


Despite his big achievements on the Asian Tour, Pagunsan time and again got into trouble with the organizers of the local pro tour. He was suspended a couple of times for offenses like walking off the course in the middle of a tournament and abandoning his teammates in a Ryder Cup-style event.

And even before Naomi Osaka’s issue with media interviews came to fore, Pagunsan had already distanced himself from the local press.

This time, Pagunsan says he’s all business with the interest of the PH Team first.

Bones Floro, the secretary general of the National Golf Association of the Philippines, believes Pagunsan is out to add more successes to a breakout season. “Winning for the first time here in Japan did quite a lot to his confidence and rightly so because it secured his card for the next three years,” Floro said. “We’ll expect Juvic to be ready for the challenge and scared of no one else.”

Pagunsan has been paired with Scott Vincent of Zimbabwe and Paraguay’s Fabrizio Zanotti in the first two rounds.

Pagunsan’s threesome will tee off at 10:58 am Japan time (9:58 Manila time) on Thursday then return to the course to start at 9:03 the next day.


In the featured flight are newly-crowned British Open champion Collin Morikawa of the United States, Rory McIlroy of Ireland and Im Sung-jae of South Korea. They have a 10:25 a.m. tee time on Thursday and 8:25 a.m. schedule on Friday.

There is no cut to worry about in an Olympic setting and this will keep Juvic in focus for the only thing that matters in the competition. Winning the gold and hearing the Philippine anthem on Sunday.

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TAGS: Juvic Pagunsan, PH Tokyo 2020, Tokyo Olympics

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