5th and final Resorts World Manila Masters will be a bittersweet affair
The 2017 Resorts World Manila Masters tees off on November 9 and will climax with the final day on November 12. The Asian Tour event will have a purse of US$1 million and many fine golfers on Asia's premier tour will do battle in the Manila Southwoods' Masters course in Carmona, Cavite for the winner's prize. The defending champ, India's S.S.P. Chawrasia, will surely be a favorite again.
But this year there will be much more than golf on the minds of all involved.
The tournament comes just five months after the tragic events of June 2, 2017, when a deeply troubled Jessie Javier Carlos set parts of Resorts World Manila ablaze, causing the deaths of 37 and injuries to scores more. He also took his own life.
“We will support the children of those who died in the tragedy,” says Resorts World Manila's Senior Director of Gaming Marketing, Jeff Evora.
RWM will hold a charity fundraising drive during the tournament and will encourage players to chip in to a fund that will be released to both the children and qualified heirs of those who lost their lives.
There will be echoes of the first running of the RWMM in 2013, when the Philippine Red Cross partnered with the event to raise funds and awareness for Typhoon Yolanda relief. The winner of that edition of the tournament, China's Liang Wen-Chong, donated half of his US$135,000 champion's purse to Yolanda victims.
RWM has set up a foundation called the “Children of Resorts World Manila Foundation” that will help disburse the cash.
In what seems to be a decision unrelated to the tragedy, the 5-year partnership between the event and Resorts World Manila will conclude this year. The sponsorship contract will not be renewed.
“It's been a marvelous 5 years,” said Evora wistfully at the RWMM Media Day last Friday.
“We hope we are not the last sponsor,” he added. The search is reportedly on for a new title sponsor.
“We've had a great 5 years with them and we are sad to see them go,” said Mark Watson, Southwoods' General Manager.
The club is busy preparing for the tournament by sprucing up their greens. 6 of the Masters Course's dance floors have been completely redone with TifEagle grass. This Bermuda has been proven on Southwoods' other track, the Legends Course, as being hardier than the TifDwarf used in most of the Masters course's greens.
The reworked greens have also been enlarged and made a bit more undulating. I played a round of golf at the Jack Nicklaus-designed Masters during the Media Day and found some of the putts fiendishly difficult to read thanks to the double-breaks and undulations.
Coincidentally, the event coincides with the 25th anniversary of the founding of Manila Southwoods. The club will hold a 25th anniversary championship from November 22 to 25. Apart from a tournament there will also be a gala dinner and a bird-watching event. Apparently every sunset a flock of egrets returns to their home at the lake beside Hole 16 of the Masters course, and it is quite a spectacle.
While other golf clubs struggle these days, Southwoods is reportedly in the pink of health. The recent opening of Megaworld's Southwoods Mall nearby, plus other developments in the Biñan area have augured well for the future of the club. It's share price has recently soared to P1.5M.
But the focus for the club will be the RWMM. No doubt there will be another exciting finish to a tournament that has seen many. What the event has yet to experience is a Filipino champion.
Top Filipino bets include Angelo Que, Miguel Tabuena, and Antonio Lascuña. But you can't count out dark horses like Clyde Mondilla, the outrageously long-hitting Bukidnon native who is atop the Philippine Golf Tour Order of Merit with over P3 million in earnings this season.
The best 20 Filipinos are directly seeded into the event while there will be another qualifying event only for Pinoys on November 3.
This year's tournament may be tinged with sadness, but once the first drive splits the fairway, the excitement of world-class golf will take centerstage. – Rappler.com
Follow Bob on Twitter @PassionateFanPH
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