11 clubs, no caddie, no worries for Pagunsan

It’s why we love the ancient club-and-ball game because it throws-up stories to warm the heart. Recently, it was a near-51-year-old Phil Mickelson becoming the oldest winner of a men’s major.

Then two days later Ireland’s own Shane Lowry was on a Zoom hook-up arranged by the R&A ahead of his Open Championship defence when he told the story of leaving a golf fan in tears.

Juvic Pagunsan and Ryutaro Nagano Juvic Pagunsan and Ryutaro Nagano (Credit: Japan Golf Tour)

The fan asked Lowry if the special carry case he was pulling behind him at an airport held the Claret Jug and Lowry stopped to open the case to allow the fan to hold the gleaming trophy.

Now there’s yet another heart-warming tale of 43-year-old Philippines-born Juvic Pagunsan, who next month will join Lowry at Royal St.George’s.

Pagunsan earned a place in what will be his third Open Championship in winning the Gateway to the Open Mizuno Open after securing his maiden victory on the Japan Tour after 10-years of trying.

What was extra special is that Pagunsan won by three shots carrying just 11 clubs and with no caddie over the reduced three rounds on the Setonaikai Golf Club course at Kasaoka in Okayama.

Given the continuing COVID-19 restrictions in Japan all players were allowed to have a caddie follow them in a motorised cart but according to Golf Digest, Pagunsan was annoyed in having to drive the carts around the green and that’s why he chose to walk.

“I am getting older and the last two times I played with 14 clubs they were really heavy,” he said.

“I don’t like to use the electric carts, since you have to go all the way around the greens.”

Isn’t it why most of us also choose to walk and carry our own bag rather than mess around with motorised carts?

So, what clubs did Pagunsan choose to leave out?

He took out his 3, 4, 6 and 8-irons, electing to retain four wedges and a 19-degree utility club.

His prior Opens were the 2012 and 2014 Open Championships.

Also qualifying for Royal St. George’s was Japan’s Ryutaro Nagano, who was runner-up to Pagunsan.

Dylan Perry lead the Australians finishing in a share of 8th place for his best result on the Japan Golf Tour since the 2019 Heiwa PGM Championship.

Scott Strange was another two shots back in equal 12th followed by Brad Kennedy and New Zealand’s Michael Hendry in 14th place.

Todd Sinnott (T31), David Bransdon (T36) and Matt Griffin (T40) rounded out the Aussies to make the cut in the rain-shortened event.