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Filipino ace Pagunsan readies for Mizuno Open

JUVIC Pagunsan is highly-motivated to reclaim his lost crown in this week’s Gateway to the Open Mizuno Open and bring his dream British Open debut to fruition this time.

Mr. Pagunsan ruled the prestigious Japan Tour event in 2021 and earned a ticket to The Open Championship that year.

But the Pinoy ace decided to skip the oldest golf tournament in the world held July 15 to 18 in England due to travel and quarantine restrictions at the time and instead gave priority to his stint in the July 29 to Aug. 1 golf tourney of the Tokyo Olympics.

“I vividly remember my first victory and I aim to approach next week’s tournament with that same mindset,” Mr. Pagunsan said ahead of the Mizuno Open, which is slated for May 25 to 28 at the JFE Setonaikai Golf Club in Okayama.

Bouncing back is also a driving force for Mr. Pagunsan, who bombed in his title defense in 2022. He missed the cut after opening with 71 and 76.

Going to the 2023 edition, the 45-year-old Mr. Pagunsan is on a high after reigning supreme in the Golf Partner Pro-Am Tournament last Sunday. It was  his second triumph in the Japan Tour.

“I am extremely happy right now. Winning for the second time in Japan has always been a dream of mine and I am thrilled to have accomplished it,” he said.

Mr. Pagunsan fended off the final-round challenge of Japanese Taihei Sato to win by two in front of his loved ones.

“This victory is even more special because my family is here to witness my performance. They returned to Japan last week after the travel restrictions were lifted,” said the pride of Bacolod, who carded a winning 23-under 257 and banked ¥12 million (around P4.85 million). — Olmin Leyba

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