The Philippine Open - regarded as Asia's oldest national golf championship - has put up a record prize of $700,000, the biggest in the history of the championship, a lure that it hopes will attract the best talent in Asia and Australia.
The prize money, which is bigger than any the Open had ever offered, will make the event nearly at par with some of the region's biggest golfing competitions.
For the first time in its long history, the Philippine Open has also decided to cut its ties with the Asian Tour and join the fledgling One Asia Tour believing the new association gives the Open more stature and the Filipino golfers more opportunity to improve their game.
National Golf Association of the Philippines Tommy Manotoc called the occasion "historic," and said he lost some friends by making the jump from the Asian Tour to One Asia.
"This is historic and it has never been done before," said Manotoc in a press briefing, referring to the prize money of approximately P30 million. "It wasn't easy, and I lost a few friends along the way in doing it. But (Philippine) golf needs it."
The Philippine Open had always been a significant part of the Asian Tour, being one of its founders, but NGAP officials felt it was time to move on after they realized they were not getting the boost they needed to improve local golf.
Jason Day, the Filipino-Australian who placed second in the Masters two years ago and had top 10 finishes in other majors, will be among the players Manotoc said he hopes to attract to the Open.
The One Asia Tour has in its roster top stars from Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, China and Thailand.
The Open will be held in November next year at Wack Wack. It is expected to be televised live over Star Sports or ESPN.
Last February, the Open had a $300,000 total pot where Mardan Mamat of Singapore won the title with an eight-under 280.
David Parkins, One Asia's director of operations, was among those who attended yesterday's press briefing. Also present were MVP Sports Foundation president Al Panlilio and vice-president Chot Reyes and Wack Wack's vice-president Butch Campos.
The MVP Sports Foundation (MVPSF) of sports benefactor Manny V. Pangilinan, has included golf as among the sports it will support for 2013 in hopes to develop a local golfer in time for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
"The MVP Sports Foundation's vision is to help the country produce its first Olympic gold (medal)," Panlilio said. "And in 2016 (Olympics), we feel that we have a shot in golf. We're fully committed to the NGAP."