Orchard nears 1st Interclub crown

By Abac Cordero, The Philippine Star

Posted at Mar 01 2014 05:52 PM | Updated as of Mar 02 2014 01:52 AM

BACOLOD, Philippines - – There’s no room for error for Orchard as it enters the final round of the 67th Philippine Airlines Interclub men’s golf championship 10 points ahead of new pursuer Alabang.

There’s no assurance that Orchard will go on and clinch its first PAL Interclub title.

“Mahirap sabihin (It’s hard to tell),” said Orchard team manager Francis Montallana after his team scored 113 points at the Binitin course in Murcia town yesterday.

The final round will be played at the tougher Marapara course.

Montallana spoke cautiously about their chances because Alabang is still capable of turning things around.

“Unti-unti nila kami kinakainan (They’s slowly closing in on us). But we will give them a good fight tomorrow (today),” he said.

Nicolas Santiano, a steady 31-year-old who’s in his first Interclub, carried the fight for Orchard with 33 points. It was the best output for the day.

Santiano had three birdies, two of them on par-5 holes, and bogeyed all four par-3 holes. He had a pick-up on No. 11 for a three-over-par 73 in medal play.

Raymund Sangil backed him up with 32 points while Jose Mangulabnan and Antonio Payumo scored with their 29 and 19 points, respectively.

Alabang, 20 points behind Orchard after the first round, continued its surge, scoring 114 on Sebastian Lorenzo’s 31 points, Christopher Popp’s 30, Jama Reyes’ 28 and Gabriel Manotoc’s 25.

“Alabang still has a chance,” Montallana insisted.

Alabang will rely on Justin Quiban, who had 37 points at Marapara the other day, Ramon Garcia, Lorenzo, Manotoc and Reyes.

A couple of mid-30s from any of these players can turn the final round of this year’s Interclub into a shootout.

But Orchard has also saved its best for last, with Stephen King Stehmeier, John Kier Abdon and JP de Claro.

“We reserved some good scorers for tomorrow,” said the Orchard skipper.

Del Monte, running second after two rounds, struggled with 103 points, its worst effort in three days, and fell 16 points behind Orchard with 335 points.

The best scorer for Del Monte was Leonard Lofranco with 30, followed by Jansen Morilla with 26, Jelbert Gamolo with 24 and Julius Bautista with 33.

Reigning back-to-back champion Cebu Country Club kissed its hopes goodbye following a measly 98 points in the third round. Eric Deen had 30 and Nagai Gen had 25.

Negros Occidental Golf moved 12 points ahead of Valley Golf in the Founders Division after scoring 106 points on a trio of 27s from Tonchy de Leon, Jimmy Jusay and Kokoy Locsin.

In the Sportswriters Division, Lumbia settled the issue on the third day with its 98 points for a huge 25-point lead over SO Cal Redhawk. In the Friendship Division, Fil-Am Hawaii is six points up on Cotabato Golf and braced itself for a final-round shootout.

This year’s Interclub is being co-sponsored by CrossOver with Boeing, Philippines Graphic, Stargate Media (People Asia) and Rogue as corporate backers. Also lending support are Airbus, Business Mirror, One Mega Group (Travel Now), Philippine Broadcasting Corporation, Manila Broadcasting Corporation, Petron and Manila Bulletin.