Canlubang's 7 of 8 titles, 3-peat hard to beat

By Olmin Leyba, The Philippine Star

Posted at Feb 26 2013 11:08 AM | Updated as of Feb 26 2013 07:08 PM

MANILA, Philippines - As Canlubang put the finishing touches to another successful run in the 66th Philippine Airlines Interclub Seniors golf tournament in Cebu, it strongly emphasized who’s the boss of the prestigious annual event.

Three-peat. Ruler of seven of the last eight tournaments. Each victory surpassing the previous in gratification.

At Alta Vista Golf and Country Club and Club Filipino de Cebu Golf Club over the weekend, the Sugar Barons made their surge in the third and fourth rounds, outclassing rival Luisita by six points (568-562).

It was a down-to-the-wire race for the 2013 crown as the tournament’s two winningest clubs fought on even terms after the first nine holes of the final round at Alta Vista’s up-and-down course.

“We managed to keep our games and Luisita did not,” said Canlubang team owner Luigi Yulo, who described this latest triumph as “very sweet, most gratifying.”

The Sugar Barons did not have the steady presence of Tommy Manotoc, hero of their previous conquests, for this campaign. But the available roster measured up to the task.

Rolly Viray spearheaded scoring for Canlubang, firing a pivotal 51 on the final day, to go with his 49 in Day 1. Mari Hechanova carded 50 in the opening round and shot a 49 in the third, when Canlubang vaulted into the lead after lurking at third spot the first days. Dave Hernandez, who accounted for 46 in Day 2, closed out with a 51 to help the Sugar Barons secure the win against the spirited stand of Luisita.

“Let’s give it to Canlubang, they deserved it,” said Philippine Sports Commission chairman Richie Garcia, who led 14-time winner Luisita with 54 points on opening day and 47 on the last day.

Meanwhile, Mactan, a military-operated layout which no team in the 66th Philippine Airlines Interclub field can claim to have familiarity with, will be the site of Day 1 action of the men’s regular championship starting tomorrow.

Cebu Country Club, a traditional course which has been a landmark at the heart of this city, will host the second and final rounds as its club bets shoot to win the event for the second straight year.

Also a par-72 like CCC, Mactan will be the site for the third day, which could prove CCC general manager Jeric Hechanova right when he said that it could be the turning point of the tournament.

While CCC will have relatively sleek and well-manicured greens, Mactan will have slow greens.

Fairways of both courses also vary greatly, with CCC being softer and Mactan a tad harder than usual, making approaches more difficult over at the course near the international airport.

“That’s why we believe that the turning point (of the tournament) could be Mactan,” Hechanova had said in an earlier interview. “Anything can happen there and no team can claim local knowledge over there.”

Cebu CC will be shooting for back-to-back wins for the first time in its PAL Interclub participation and it will be bannered by basically the same team that ruled the event last year at the Apo Golf and Rancho Palos Verdes courses in Davao.

Alabang will parade a youthful side that has Filipino-German Keanu Jahns on the lineup, while Del Monte, the champion two years ago in Cagayan de Oro and Bukidnon, has also remained practically intact.

One heavy contributor for Cebu CC last year who won’t be around this time is Gio Gandiongco, the cool and calculating teenager who is in a golf scholarship in the United States.

The PAL Interclub is being 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 Corp., 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 and Spa, Boeing and Philippines Graphic.