When it comes to golf, there’s no bigger legend than the Golden Bear himself. Jack Nicklaus’ prolific career still stands as one of greatest with an elusive 18 Major Championships; a total Tiger Woods continues to chase. Post-retirement, Nicklaus has continued to be a stud in the golf world, designing courses with Trump, owning his own courses, hosting PGA tournaments and creating a dope apparel brand aptly named after himself.
Completely unknown to most people, including myself until a few days ago, is that Jack Nicklaus apparel hosts an annual tournament that brings together some of the best amateur golfers from around the world.
The 7th Jack Nicklaus International Invitational (JNII) 2-day tournament kicked off this past May 29th at the prestigious Scioto Country Club in Columbus, Ohio – a course, which has previously hosted five different major championships including the U.S. Open (1926), the Ryder Cup (1931), the PGA Championship (1950), the U.S. Amateur Championship (1968) and the U.S. Senior Open Championship (1986).
Vince and I were the first to catch up with the victorious team Philippines’ Teody Pascual and Joseph Tambunting since they returned to the motherland!
Teody and Joseph met almost 10-years ago at a local tournament and are both exceptional individual golfers. The two start playing late in life (ages 30 and 26) but immediately excelled at it becoming club champions of their respective home courses (Teody: 2009 & 2010 at Southwood; Joseph: 2009 at Riviera).
Since meeting, Joseph and Teody have partnered together in a number of local tournaments except for the JNII.
“We’ve won the Riviera invitational 4 times straight together,” Joseph laughed. “After trying to win the local Jack Nicklaus qualifiers with different partners the past few years, we said let’s stop this foolishness and decided to partner with one another this year.”
The 2013 JNII Philippine qualifiers were held earlier this year at the Southwood Golf and Country Club and featured over 250 teams competing in a 2-person scramble with handicap scoring (for those unfamiliar with a 2-man scramble, read here).
Going in with high hopes, the pair didn’t perform as well as expect on the first day but luck was on their side.
According to Teody, “Only 25 teams should have qualified but after the first day, there were 7 ties so they moved the cut to the top-32 teams. Turns out we were the 32nd team!”
“If there was a countback, we wouldn’t have made it,” added Joseph.
Barely limping in, the two decided to enlist the help of Sta. Elena’s resident pro, Rick Gibson a few days before the final round.
“He taught us what to do on the course and where to score,” Joseph said. “Rick told us if you want to win, you have to score on the front-9.”
Little might have been learned from those lesson though as the pair scored an even par on the front-9 only to make six birdies on the back-9 to come from behind to win the local JNII qualifiers.
“we’re the accidental champions,” the two said in unison with a smile!
In addition to the Philippines, the international tournament in Ohio featured seven other countries: Japan, China, South Africa, Denmark, Mexico, Italy, and Korea, competing in the same two day 2-person scramble format.
On the first day, the Philippines was paired with Korea.
“First day, we really wanted to get a feel of who would be in the fight,” Joseph told us. “No pressure. We just enjoyed the tournament and didn’t try to force our shots because we knew it was a 2-day event.”
After both teams birdied the first two holes, according to Joseph, “that was it… third hole the Korean’s lost it.”
Joseph and Teody finished the first day 1-under-par, tied with Denmark and 4-strokes behind Japan due to the handicap scoring system.
The first day wasn’t without its lows, especially when Joseph began feeling under the weather towards the end of the round. That’s when a caring and/or highly motivated Teody took matters into his own hands.
“After the first day, we got home at 5 o’clock and [Jack Nicklaus Brand Manager] Jinggay was expecting us for dinner,” Joseph told us. “My partner says, no go to bed, go to sleep dont get up. he basically locked me in the room!”
Channeling Their Inner Golden Bear
Waking up feeling recharged, Joseph and Teody were in good spirits. Prior to teeing off, the pair agreed that “if we shoot 4-under in round 2, we’ll win.” The second round didn’t go as smoothly as day 1 though…
Paired together with the co-ed Japanese team on day 2, Joseph and Teody made four birdies on the front-9 to pull ahead by one stroke going into the final stretch. But birdies by team Japan on the 11th and 12th moved them back again by a stroke.
Team Philippines rode an intense roller coaster the next four holes. After parring the 13th, Joseph and Teody bogeyed the 14th, birdied the 15th, and bogeyed the 16th to go two strokes down with two to play.
“It’s a very tough course,” Teody said. “It is up and down, hilly and narrow with tall rough that would cover your feet when you stand in it. If you’re in the rough, you have to add an additional 50 yards to your shot.”
“We were having a tough time but would try to stay positive and would push each other by saying ‘I need you here or I need your shot here or maybe you’re hungry?’,” Joseph said with a giggle.
The two received plenty of encouragement from Jinggay though on 16th when they were already down, the pair just needed silence. “Jinggay kept challenging us throughout the whole tournament,” Joseph told Vince and I. “Finally, I said to her, the last girl who challenged me now has 5 kids so stop challenging me!”
“Going into 17 two down, we had to buckled down knowing this is how we separate the boys from the men.”
The 17th hole at Scioto, a tight 170 yard par-3 against the wind into a half island green with water on the left and bunker on the right, is difficult by any standard. Making it even harder was a pin tucked snuggly in the top-left corner. Team Japan teed off first with Yuna Yamashita, a former nationally ranked female junior golfer in Japan, landing it on the green two pins away from the hole.
Electing to use a soft 6 instead of his usual 7-iron for that distance, Joseph teed off next and scorched a perfect shot that landed within 5-feet of the hole. Teody tapped it in for birdie, leaving our hometown heroes only one stroke behind going into the final hole.
A great drive by Teody on the 18th left the pair with a 160 yard uphill shot just off the fairway in, while an equally great drive by Yuna left team Japan with a similar distance but from the middle.
Team Japan hit first but could not capitalize on their second shot with Tadayuki Murai hitting into the left rough and Yuna hitting into the right bunker.
“We said to each other… we can win this if we just hit it onto the green!” said Joseph.
Teody went first but pulled his shot into the left rough like Tadayuki. Joseph was up next and told us he reassured his partner that “he’s got this,” only to catch the ball a bit heavy to come up short in the right bunker.
Given the length of the grass, Teody and Joseph elected to hit a blind bunker shot from three pins away, while the Japanese chose to hit from the rough.
Tadayuki made it out first but ended up two pins past the hole. Yuna went next but chunked her shot landing only a foot past where she hit from.
“bro… we just need to Phil Mickelson it out,” Teody recalls Joseph telling him.
With the weight of a nation on his shoulders, Teody swung his 56 degree sand wedge landing the ball at the top of the hill and rolling it within 3 feet of the hole! A par putt sealed the deal for our hometown heroes who officially won the 2013 JNII by .8 strokes.
The victory marked the second JNII win for the Philippines and was extra special for two ordinary guys who shouldn’t even have qualified and were counted out right when they arrived in Columbus. “No one thought that we could win,” Joseph joked with us. “They would look at me and think, how can a guy so big swing a golf club. Even the Japanese woman thought that I was a sumo wrestler.”
For the win, the pair got to spend the rest of the week in Columbus watching the 2013 Memorial Tournament, which was also hosted by Nicklaus. For Teody, it’s been a lifelong dream of his to watch Tiger Woods play live. When we asked Joseph how he felt about following Tiger around, he responded, “I didn’t want to watch Tiger Woods, I wanted to watch the girls Tiger woods was with! After two days, I lost interested but Joseph followed him the last three days and even woke up early to watch him practice.”
In addition to VIP access at Memorial, Joseph and Teody were invited to a personal workshop with PGA professionals Nicolas Colsaerts and Keegan Bradley who gave the two winners tips on how to better draw and fade the ball.
But for the pair, the most memorable moment was when they got to meet the Golden Bear himself, Jack Nicklaus, telling us, “When we started playing golf, who did we look up to? Jack Nicklaus! It was such an honor meeting him and being able to shake his hand.”
With their first international win, Joseph and Teody are just grateful for the experience and have no intentions of quitting their day jobs, claiming that “golf is a passion only.”
The 8th Annual Jack Nicklaus International Invitational Philippine qualifiers will kick off March 2014 with the winners once again receiving a place in the international finals in the United States and VIP access to next year’s Memorial Tournament.
Until then, be sure to checkout Jack Nicklaus’ current 2013 S/S collection featuring bold colors and stripes and the same light-weight, breathable performance line Team Philippines wore during their win in the States.
Congratulations again again to Teody Pascual and Joseph Tambunting for bringing home the gold and special thanks to Jinggay Arcilla for the exclusive interview. Checkout the clubs the two used at the JNII below:
Driver: TaylorMade R11 – 9.5 degrees, neutral setting, TP stiff shaft
3 Wood: TaylorMade R11 – 15 degrees
2, 3, 4 Hybrids: TaylorMade RBZ
5 Iron – P Wedge: Honma Beres
52 & 58 Degree Wedges: Honma Beres
Honma Beres Putter
Driver: Titleist 901D3 – 9.5 degrees
3 Wood: Ping g15
Rescue 18 & 21 Degrees: Honma Beres
5 Iron – P Wedge: Honma Beres
Ping 52 Degree Wedge
Honma Beres 56 Degree Wedge
Team Balls: Titleist ProV1x
Team Bags: Mizuno
Team Apparel: Jack Nicklaus 2013 S/S Performance Line
Jack Nicklaus Apparel is exclusively distributed by the Rustan’s Marketing Corporation at the following locations: Rustan’s Makati, Shangri-La Plaza, Alabang Town Center, Gateway Mall Cubao, Robinsons Place Ermita, Ayala Center Cebu, Landmark Trinoma, SM Makati, Clark, Chimes Dept. Store, and Victoria Plaza Davao. Exclusively distributed by Rustan Marketing Corporation.
For additional information about the Jack Nicklaus International Invitational and the latest line of Jack Nicklaus apparel, please contact: