Pagunsan feels at home amid strong challenge

Nelson Beltran - The Philippine Star
Pagunsan feels at home amid strong challenge
Juvic Pagunsan
STAR / File

TOKYO – Carefully placed lakes, bunkers and trees, and rolling fairways welcomed Juvic Pagunsan to the formidable Kasumigaseki Country Club course for the official practice rounds of men’s golf in the XXXII Olympics Tuesday and yesterday.

Today, Pagunsan huddles with Paraguay’s Fabrizio Zanotti and Zimbabwe’s Scott Vincent as they make up the second to the last flight at 10:58 a.m., launching their bids against several big names in the game of golf.

John Rahm and Bryson DeChambeau are out due to COVID-19, but the field is as tough as it can be with the likes of US Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama of Japan, former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, the United States’ Xander Schuffele, Justin Thomas and Collin Morikawa, Great Britain’s Paul Casey and Ireland’s Rory Lowry in there.

Pagunsan, enjoying some feel of home court edge being a Japan Tour campaigner, will be out to play his game in the Olympic golf that is likely to offer tests as tough as they come in the majors.

The Filipino also enjoys some momentum from his recent triumph in the Japan Tour that keyed his entry to the field vying in the 72-hole Olympic tournament in the rich green forest of the Musashino hills.

Golf is among the major attractions in Tokyo 2020 after its return to the Olympic program at Rio in 2016 won by Great Britain’s Justin Rose at 16 under.

Rose, however, isn’t around to defend the crown.

Casey and Tommy Fleetwood carry the flag for Great Britain in the event drawing qualified bets from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, China, Chinese Taipei, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Paraguay, Poland, Korea, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, US, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.

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