manila.mastersPhilippines’ Miguel Tabuena believes the prospect of becoming the first local player to win the Resorts World Manila Masters will be his biggest motivation when the US$1 million event gets underway on Thursday.

Tabuena’s belief is fuelled by his impressive form this season where he has already enjoyed five top-10s including two runner-up finishes in Malaysia and Chinese Taipei.

As the highest ranked Filipino in sixth place on the Asian Tour Order of Merit, Tabuena is confident of his chances when he tees off at the Manila Southwoods Golf and Country Club tomorrow.

“This is obviously my best year as a professional by far. I’ve prepared well and I believe I have the game to excel this week.

“I know this is my best chance of being the first local player to lift the trophy at the end of the week,” said Tabuena.

Tabuena, who also had the honour of flying his country’s flag at the Olympics in August, has since learnt to cope with the mental demands of the game and is determined to stay focused in pursuit of more sporting glory this week.

“It’s always tough playing on home soil as there’s that added pressure of performing at the highest level. But I’ve been telling myself to treat it as any other event on the Asian Tour and not to have any negative thoughts.

“The key for this week is to drive the ball well and keep it on the fairways. I believe I can do it and I’m looking forward to the week,” said Tabuena.

Like Tabuena, Thailand’s Natipong Srithong is also looking forward to the start of the Resorts World Manila Masters.

The Thai’s victory last year was his first in what was only his fourth start as a professional and memories of that famous victory are understandably still firmly etched in his mind.

“I was confident of winning the tournament last year. I was hitting the ball very well and I had a good feeling about the golf course. I was trailing Jbe Kruger by four shots at one stage but managed to reduce it and eventually win by one-shot.

“Looking back, the par-three 17 was a decisive hole for me. I looked at that putt and knew I had to birdie that hole. Thankfully I sank that putt from 30 feet and went on to win the title,” said Natipong.

When asked about his title defence chances this year, the Thai was in his usual optimistic mood.

“I always give my best in every tournament I play in and this week will not be any different. I’ll do my best,” said Natipong.

Resorts World Manila Masters partners include Manila Southwoods Golf and Country Club, Marriott (Official Hotel Partner) and supported by Aristocrat, IGT, Konami, Scientific Games, Empire Automation, LJ Industries, Levelwear, RGB LTD, PLDT Alpha, Dalmore, Srixon and Bloomberg.

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