Both on a mission at Philippine Open

Tarlac, Philippines: Marcus Both of Australia has high hopes of lifting the prestigious Philippine Open presented by ICTSI trophy for the second straight year when the US$300,000 Asian Tour event gets underway next week.

Both secured a stylish win in the event last year on a different course but he is ready to repeat his heroics at the beautiful Luisita Golf & Country Club, located about a two-hour drive from Manila.

He will defend his title against Order of Merit champions Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand and Juvic Pagunsan of the Philippines. Multiple Asian Tour winners Prayad Marksaeng of Thailand and Gaganjeet Bhullar of India will also feature in the final Asian Tour event in 2015 staged from December 17 to 20.

“It feels weird defending on a different golf course because I played very well at Wack Wack (last year’s venue). I’ve done a little bit of research, in fact, one of my friends have been to the Luisita course and he posted a lot of photos on Facebook!

“It looks great and I’m very excited. At the end of the day we are fighting for the same trophy and I’ll be honoured to hold it up for two years in a row. I’m sure everybody will go there with the same goal,” said Both.

The 36-year-old, who is a three-time Asian Tour winner, has endured an uncharacteristic run of poor form in 2015 where he sits in 136th position on the Order of Merit, but should he win next week, he will be afforded with a one-year winner’s exemption on the Asian Tour.

“My game hasn’t been good but I’ve rectified most of the issues which I’ve battling with. My game feels in great shape although the scores have not really shown. I just need to stay comfortable and shooting some low scores,” said Both.

“My short game at the start of the year has been very poor. Once I sort of managed to fix that then my long game suffered a little bit. This is a difficult game. It is tough to get everything firing on all cylinders on the same time,” he added.

The storied Philippine Open has celebrated many worthy champions in the past including Australia’s Peter Thomson, Lu Lian-huang and Hsieh Min-nan of Chinese Taipei, Mardan Mamat of Singapore and Filipino stars Frankie Minoza, Angelo Que, Larry Montes, Celestino Tugot, Ben Arda and Luis ‘Golem’ Silverio, who won as an amateur in 1966.