MANILA, Philippines — Filipino Juvic Pagunsan carded a disappointing 72 Monday morning, March 12, to finish tied 35th at the World Golf Championship in Florida, USA.
Pagunsan started the day hot with 4 birdies in 8 holes and rapidly climbed the leaderboard but limped home with 2 double bogies.
For the country’s best golfer and the 11th best Asian golfer, 35th is usually a poor showing but this past weekend, he played against the world’s very best and proved he belonged.
Pagunsan started the tournament guns blazing with a 69 and was beating the current world number one Rory Mcilroy and former number ones Tiger Woods, Lee Westwood, and Martin Kaymer.
If you haven’t heard of Juvic Pagunsan, it’s about time the Philippines knows and remembers the name.
As a former caddie who hails from Bacolod, Pagunsan is about as gifted an athlete as you’ll see.
At only 5’8 and of slight build, he looks mundane – until he blasts the ball over 300 yards with uncanny, phenomenal hand-speed and flexibility.
His father, Juanito, a former caddie and professional golfer in his own right, taught him the game at Binitin, the golf club where the father and son worked as caddies and eventually professional golfers.
Pagunsan has been known for years by the Filipino golfing community when he rocked the Philippine amateur scene by winning the 2001 and 2005 SEA Games and went onto win the Philippine Amateur, Thailand Amateur, and Malaysian Amateur, all in 2005.
He then qualified and debuted on the Asian Tour in 2006 and had 4 top 10 finishes, enough to win Rookie of the Year.
Quirky fan favorite
Pagunsan is known to be a quirky, fiery competitor who strolls the course with a jolly disposition and smile.
It was his distinctly Filipino carefree charm that the Singaporean crowds were so enamored with when he almost won the Barclay’s Singapore Open a few months back.
Pagunsan has always had a flair for the dramatic.
He went to Singapore struggling all season and could have lost his tour card but in typical Juvic fashion, he almost stole the show at the European Tour event but had to “settle” for well over half a million dollars and being the Asian Tour Order of Merit Champion.
The Order of Merit is determined by whoever earns the most money that year.
Pagunsan etched his name in history by becoming the first and only Filipino to ever win it.
In his sole Asian Tour victory at the Pertamina Indonesia President Invitational 2007, Pagunsan sealed the deal with clutch class by finishing birdie-eagle.
More broadly, Pagunsan’s feats illustrate that the quickest route to Philippine sporting success lies in individual sports.
If you want more proof of this, look no farther than the greatest Filipino athletes in Manny Pacquiao, bowling’s Paeng Nepomuceno, and billiards’ Efren Bata Reyes.
Finding one standout is easier than finding a team of standouts.
The Filipino athlete, despite lacking governmental support, possesses an immense amount of talent and desire.
Manny Pacquiao reminds us of this every time he fights.
This time, that Filipino athlete is named Juvic Pagunsan. – Rappler.com
Matthew Manotoc is a sports agent who co-owns Espiritu Manotoc Basketball Management (www.embm.ph). He graduated from Claremont Mckenna College where he played NCAA golf. He has worked with the Philippine Sports Commission, Philippine National Basketball Team, and WNBA. He played for the Philippine Junior National Golf Team. Follow him on twitter at @mmmanotoc.