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Tabuena tees off with stars

When Miguel Tabuena tees off today for what surely will be the biggest challenge of his young golfing life, there will be no one to cheer him on, save perhaps close family members and friends who may have taken the trip to see how the Filipino star fares against the world’s best, in the world’s most demanding test, the US Open.

“I can’t wait to have fun,” Tabuena had earlier said when asked to assess his coming debut at golf’s second major to be held at Oakmont Country Club in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.

Tabuena, 21, had been in the US for more than a week or since he qualified through a sectional competition in San Francisco. Sectionals are held around the US before the Open where some 50 slots are allotted to players not otherwise automatically qualified to compete.

Tabuena will most likely stay under the radar for the next two rounds unless he does something spectacular and gets the attention of the press whose focus will be on the “Big Three,” consisting of Australian Jason Day, American Jordan Spieth and Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy who are ranked 1-2-3 in the world. In contrast, Tabuena is ranked 127th in the world.

Tabuena’s target is most likely to make the cut, although most of the 156 players who will tee off today believe that they have what it takes to win the Open.

But if Tabuena makes the cut, that already would be an achievement in itself because the field is truly star-studded.

Day will lead golf’s young stars in seeking to join a who’s who of champions produced by Oakmont.

Gene Sarazen, Sam Snead, Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus have all tasted major success at Oakmont. Johnny Miller delivered a sublime 63 to win the 1973 US Open there. (DING MARCELO)

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