CEBU CITY: Only two teams have won the Philippine Airlines (PAL) Interclub seniors golf championships in the last 14 years.
The storyline will most likely be the same when Luisita begins its title defense against old rival Canlubang Thursday at the Mactan golf course in Lapu-Lapu City.
Luisita won five straight titles from 2001 before Can-lubang took seven of the next nine editions.
Luisita, which is gunning for its 16th crown, is fielding an almost intact lineup. Two of its key players, however, are battling health issues.
Eddie Bagtas, who powered the team to victory in Bacolod last year, skipped practice Wednesday after his blood pressure shot up to 170 over 90.
Pepot Inigo, on the other hand, was still recovering from the flu and might be fielded only in the last two rounds.
After an absence of two years, Tommy Manotoc is returning to action for Canlubang, but he may have to bring his A-game to foil Luisita’s bid for back-to-back crowns.
National seniors champion Abe Avena, one of Canlubang’s top gunners, failed to get the doctor’s clearance to play. He suffered a rib injury following a vehicular accident two weeks ago in Manila.
Besides Bagtas and Inigo, Luisita is made up of Francis Gaston, Richie Garcia, Seve Roxas Chua, Lino Magpantay, Rudy Amata and Bong Sison.
Manotoc, who came here Sunday, will be backed up by Dave Hernandez, Rolly Viray, Mari Hechanova, Tony Olives, Luigi Yulo, Bing Bunye and Rene Unson.
With both teams nursing personnel problems, the fielding of players will play a vital role in the tournament.