LIPA  CITY, May 16, 2005 
(STAR)  —  Three years ago, three young amateurs wanting nothing but to uplift Philippine pride achieved what many thought was impossible — a top three finish in the prestigious World Amateur Golf championships in Malaysia.

With two of them now grizzled pros and the other hands-down the country’s amateur ace, local hope will fly high when the 89th edition of the Philippine Open tees off May 19-22 at the Mt. Malarayat here.

Angelo Que, a winner in Vietnam last year, Jherome Delariarte, the Country Club champ, and Juvic Pagunsan will be in a reunion of sorts as they battle the best the Asian Tour has to offer.

That World Am team, captained by retired Admiral Luisito Fernandez, finished tied for third with powerhouse Australia behind the United States and France to tie the country’s worthiest effort against the best in the globe.

Fernandez is now directly involved in putting together the Open, and the secretary-general of the organizing NGAP can’t help but look back at 2002 with fondness.

He’s also looking at the coming $200,000 event with a lot of optimism and is not making it a secret that he is pinning Philippine hope on his former wards.

"I would like to see a Filipino win it," Fernandez said. "And I’d like to think that our boys who gave us honor in Malaysia have a strong chance."

The other notable Filipinos in the field include former winners Cassius Casas, Gerald Rosales and Robert Pactolerin as well as Antonio Lascuna, Danny Zarate and Carito Villaroman.

Pagunsan, 26, finished second behind Edward Michaels last year, and the power-hitting Bacolod native would like nothing less than another spectacular performance before he finally turns pro.

Que is the most exposed Filipino internationally, and will be coming into the event being presented by PAL, ICTSI, San Miguel Corp. and Konica U-bix with a lot of confidence after helping Asia win the Dynasty Cup over Japan.

Delariarte scored a breakthrough in the P5 million TCC and is definitely a favorite in the event also backed by the Hanjin Group, Pagcor, Aboitiz Group, Petron, PCSO and the DOT with the Lima City Hotel the official residence.

The newly-inaugurated, 32-room Malarayat Hotel will be the official home of the local amateurs, which will include Artemio Murakami, Michael Bibat, Jay Bayron, Boyet Saragoza and Jun Bernis.

Richard Gomez and Joey Marquez head the celebrities seeing action in the pro-am on May 18 (Wednesday). A His & Hers pair of Constellation watches from Omega and a horde of home theater items will be raffled off in the Celebrity Pro-Am with Lipa mayor Vilma Santos-Recto to award the prizes

The Mt. Malarayat Inn, a 24-room structure, will house ˆ for free ˆ the tournament staff, television crew and media that will cover the event.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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