It is Asia’s oldest National Open and its staging somehow reflected the temper of the times – from sheer bigotry of its editions in early 30s to its enduring the cruel war years and the economic crunch in the 80s. AP /Charlie Riedel /File

100th Open: Teeing off with history
Lito A. Tacujan (The Philippine Star) - January 17, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines —  The storied Philippine Open, celebrating its Centennial year next month, could provide historical footnotes not only on the sporting skills of its people but also on the very mold of the nation the last 100 years.

It is Asia’s oldest National Open and its staging somehow reflected the temper of the times – from sheer bigotry of its editions in early 30s to its enduring the cruel war years and the economic crunch in the 80s.

The Phl Open actually started in 1913 at the Manila Golf Club, then located in Caloocan, and would stay there up to 1934 with amateur JRH Mason winning the first two and adding two more in 1921 and 1927 before Filipino Larry Montes broke the foreign domination in 1929.

He would win again in 1932 that would trigger a series of events with American William James Shaw, frustrated over the treatment given the former Filipino bag-toter by club members, deciding to lead in the construction of another championship course east of the city and later held its first Open in 1935 where it would stay as its home at Wack Wack for the next three decades. The Open, however, made occasional forays into Holiday Hills (now known as TAT Filipinas), Valley Golf Club, Puerto Azul, Villamor, Mt. Malarayat, Riviera, Luisita and The Country Club.
There were no Opens in 1930-31 with no reasons cited and during the war (1945-47).

Although it was a consistent opening leg of the then Asian Circuit, the Philippine Open was not included in the 1984-86 AC calendar after organizers failed to come up with the dollar-prize pot following the economic crunch on the heels of the political upheaval touched off by the assassination of Sen. Ninoy Aquino.

Montes would win 10 more, including four straight from 1941, with other Filipino greats following suit, including Celestino Tugot, winning six, also spiked by a four-straight feat from 1955; Ben Arda, who had three (1961, 1963, 1979); Golem Silverio (1966), Quintin Mancao (1976), Rudy Labares (1984) and Mario Manubay (1986) wth feats that somehow eased the Taiwanese juggernaut,

The 90s saw Robert Pactolerin win at Puerto Azul in 1990 before Frankie Miñoza broke the seven-year domination of the foreign bets with a breakthrough win at Riviera in 1998.

Miñoza, the former No. 1 player in the Asian Circuit, would score a repeat at Wack Wack in 2007 with Gerald Rosales and Cassius Casas also scoring a victory each in 2000 and 2001 at Riviera and Wack Wack, respectively.

Four more locals took the Open crown with Angelo Que winning in 2008, Elmer Salvador and Artemio Murakami ruling the all-Pinoy Opens in 2009 and 2010 at Mt. Malarayat and Valley, respectively, and Miguel Tabuena in the rain-shortened 2015 edition at Luisita.

There was no Open again in 2016 with Englishman Steve Lewton nipping American Johannes Veerman in last year’s edition at The Country Club in Sta. Rosa, which took the honor of hosting the last two legs of the fabled event, including this year’s grand Centennial staging.

It could be one Open worth watching for all the challenges, natural and man-made, in the Tom Weiskoph-designed course made tougher with strong winds buffeting the place this year.

It will be one theater of golf with its horrors and thrills awaiting the elite roster of top guns.

100 YEARS 100TH OPEN PHILIPPINE OPEN
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