JUVIC PAGUNSAN and TIGER WOODS
BAD BOYS GONE GOOD
WORDS BY MANNY N. DE LOS REYES
Juvic Pagunsan photos by Gilbert Mercado
LET’S PLAY A LITTLE GAME OF “ODD MAN OUT.” Tiger Woods. Lee Westwood. Martin Kaymer. Rory McIlroy. Juvic Pagunsan.
Unless you’re a serious golfer with a single-digit handicap, you might not have heard of Juvic Pagunsan. And while the first three golf professionals mentioned are former world Number 1’s and McIlroy is the current number 1, Juvic is a much more humble 11th—and that’s only in Asia.
But at last March’s World Golf Championship in Florida, USA, Juvic obviously didn’t read the script. He started the tournament teeing off with a fiery 69, handily outscoring McIlroy, Woods, Westwood, and Kaymer. Which certainly grabbed the attention of quite a few (million) observers.
But that was only on the first day. Juvic Pagunsan carded a disappointing 72 in the last round, finishing tied for 35th. The Filipino sizzled on the final day with four birdies in eight holes and rapidly climbed back the leaderboard, but ultimately limped home with two double bogies.
For the country’s best golfer, 35th might be a poor showing; but on that wonderful, magical opening round, he played against the world’s top guns and proved he has what it takes to barge into that inner circle.
Born and raised in Bacolod, Pagunsan is about as natural an athlete as a Pacquiao or a Paras. Standing 5’8 and with a slight build, this former caddie looks unintimidating—until he blasts the ball over 300 yards with uncanny accuracy and phenomenal power.
He learned the ropes through his father, Juanito, a former caddie and professional golfer himself, at Binitin, the golf club where father and son caddied and eventually, became pro golfers. After dropping out of school at 15 to pursue golf, Juvic enjoyed an illustrious amateur golfing career when he stunned the local golfing world by winning the 2001 and 2005 SEA Games before going on to win the Philippine Amateur, Thailand Amateur, and Malaysian Amateur, all in 2005. He made his pro debut on the Asian Tour in 2006 at the age of 26 and had four top 10 finishes, clinching him the Rookie of the Year title and earning him close to US$300,000.