MANILA, Philippines - An early shootout among the best in the land kicks off The Duel 3 – North vs South showdown today with skippers of both teams stressing the need for a strong start for the momentum and the confidence heading to the deciding singles.
But seizing control early doesn’t assure of a victory in this unique team match play as what transpired in the first two editions of local version’s Ryder Cup where Team North led in the first two days of fourballs and foursomes, only to yield in the singles which the South squad dominated to clinch the inaugural crown in 2012.
It was more of the same last year, but it was the Northerners who came out triumphant in the singles after trailing in the best-ball and alternate shot format of the event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
“Our team is very balanced and eager to make up for last year’s loss. We need a strong start and with luck on our side we have a very good chance of taking it back,” said Team South skipper Jerome Delariarte during yesterday’s pro-am tournament where the pros teamed up with their amateur partners and guests from the event’s chief backer International Container Terminal Services, Inc. and Nike Golf, Pacsports, Srixon, Callaway, Sharp, FootJoy, Mizuno, Callaway and Custom Clubmakers with Balls, ABS-CBN Sports+Action and Inquirer Golf as media partners.
With reigning back-to-back ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour Order of Merit champion Tony Lascuña and fellow Davaeoño aces Elmer Salvador, Jay Bayron, Cassius Casas, Mhark Fernando, Jhonnel Ababa, Elmer Saban and Marvin Dumandan spearheading the team, the Southerners appear to be the stronger team on paper what with ace Frankie Miñoza and fellow Del Monte shotmaker Clyde Mondilla and Cebuano Charles Hong backstopping the squad.
“Everyone says we have the strong team but anything can happen in this format of team match play and last year’s loss is the evidence of that,” added Delariarte.
Even CCC general manager Jeric Hechanova is convinced Team South has the edge in manpower and talent with the par-72 layout also expected to challenge the elite field with its dry fairways due to lack of rain and hard greens.
“On paper, South looks like they have the edge,” said Hechanova.
But Team North also boasts of a slew of talented shotmakers, including three-time Asian Tour leg winner Angelo Que and young gun Miguel Tabuena with Carl Santos-Ocampo, Michael Bibat, Mars Pucay, Edward Reyes, Gerald Rosales, Benjie Magada, Jun Bernis, Randy Garalde, James Ryan Lam and ICTSI John Hay winner Jun Rates completing the squad. – Joey Villar
“I think we have a very good chance to make it back-to-back,” said North squad team captain Artemio Murakami. “But we can’t take them for granted since they are all good.”
The four fourball (best-ball) matches kick off hostilities at 8 a.m with the foursomes (alternate shot) to be played in the afternoon. The event will switch formats tomorrow with the deciding 12 singles matches set Friday.
The Duel 3 also serves as a break for the pros after five legs of the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour with two Asian Development Tour events lined up on May 28-31 and June 4-7 at Riviera and Orchard, respectively.