Canlubang surges ahead in PAL seniors

By Olmin Leyba, The Philippine Star

Posted at Feb 24 2013 12:38 PM | Updated as of Feb 24 2013 08:38 PM

CEBU CITY, Philippines – As if just waiting for the right time to shine, defending champion Canlubang made its big charge yesterday to overtake slumping two-round leader Pueblo de Oro and rival Luisita for the upperhand heading into the final round of the 66th Philippine Airlines Interclub Senior Golf Tournament here.

Stuck at third spot the first two rounds, the Sugar Barons submitted the day’s best score of 140 points at the Club Filipino de Cebu Golf Club in Danao City to zoom to the top with a tally of 420 points and get into good position to secure a three-peat and a seventh title in the last eight years.

The Sugar Barons seized a three-point cushion against Luisita, which returned to the clubhouse with 137 for an overall 417, as the rivals brace themselves for an all-out final battle today at the Alta Vista Golf & Country Club.

Canlubang will field Dave Hernandez, Rolly Viray, Luigi Yulo and Phillip Brodett as it seeks to seal the crown over at the par-72 up-and-down Alta Vista course against Luisita’s Richie Garcia, Minieng Maravilla, Bong Sison and Lino Magpantay.

Mari Hechanova spearheaded the Sugar Barons’ spirited third-round march with a 49-point effort at the par-71 Club Filipino course while Rene Unson Jr. complemented him with a 48 and Beng Bunye chipped in a 43 to make way for their huge leap.

Seeing action after a one-day break from his 50-point performance on opening round, Hechanova turned in a five-over par at the Danao venue that had punished competitors with difficult greens, managing a lone birdie against six bogeys, but that was enough to help bring Canlubang back to familiar position at the summit.

“I believe I still did a good job on the greens today despite two three-putts off the fringe,” said Hechanova.

The Luisitans could only get 46 points yesterday from Bong Sison, 45 from Lino Magpantay and 44 from Pepot Iñigo as the 14-time winners remained at No. 2 after three rounds but still within striking distance of Canlubang.

Pueblo de Oro, the surprise leader in the first half of play, was left in the wake of the charge of Canlubang and Luisita as their “weary” second group struggled big-time yesterday.

Arriving from Cagayan only Friday afternoon and with little time to practice, the golfers from Cagayan de Oro limped with a meager 116 on Mike Celdran’s 41, Carlos Rubio’s 38 and Miguel Chiong’s 37 for a 401-point aggregate, 19 off the frontrunner.

Cebu Country Club maintained the lead in the Founders’ division but its bid to win the Championship division suffered a blow after a rather bland third round. Only two points off the pace at the start of the day, the CCC golfers labored for 131 points and 413 total – seven points off Canlubang but still good for top spot in Founders’ play.

With top scorer Montito Garcia resting, Lor Alaan led scoring with 46 as Kim Kwang Seok and Nonoy Tirol added 44 and 41, respectively, for CCC, which maintained its stranglehold against Alta Vista (408) and Valley Golf (396).

The 66th PAL Interclub is sponsored by the Department of Tourism, 105.1 Crossover, Solar Sports, Plantation Bay Resort and Spa, 92.3 FM Radyo 5, Araneta Coliseum and AXN. Major sponsors are Airbus, Manila Broadcasting Corporation, Philippine Broadcasting Network, People Asia, Radio Mindanao Network, Business Mirror and ABS-CBN The Filipino Channel (TFC).

Corporate sponsors include Radisson Blu Hotel, Shangri-La Resort & Spa, Boeing, and Philippines Graphic.