BAGUIO CITY: As the top flights take a day break going to the last two days of play, Thirdy Escano is confident that Manila Southwoods is short of formalizing the top crown in the 67th Fil-Am Invitational Golf Tournament presented by San Miguel.
“Barring any unforeseen hexes,” Escano said that Southwoods will return as champion in the annual competition.
The Fil Championship team has two rounds of 268, 19 up on second ranked Royal Northwoods and 29 points lead on defending champion San Miguel – Northern Cement.
Another supposed contender, Srixon Forest Hills is limping at fifth, 39 off the leader and with its top gun, the country’s top amateur golfer, was down with stomach virus that saw him retching on the first day of play and did not play.
Southwoods has the most titles in said flight with eight, seven of which came after joining in 1997 until 2003.
The Am team is even more dominating, with a record setting 150, six under, on day one and an even par 144 on day two for 294 and a 65 point lead on second ranked Batangas Barakos.
“By the way our boys are playing, it surely looks like both our teams will romp away with top honors come awards night on Saturday,” said Escano.
Yuto Katsuragawa (17 years old) and Liam Cully (16) are on top the individual list with identical one under for 73 and lead three other Southwoods players in the list, the grand “old man” Jun jun Plana and Joo Hyung Kim, the youngest at 14 with 72, and Jose Emmanuel Sajulga with 70 points.
Katsuragawa set a Fil-Am record of three under 58 for 39 points that included a rare eagle at the course’s, and the event’s, most difficult hole, the 11th while the Am team posted the best score of 150 in the last 22 years.
“And considering the average age of our players, Manila Southwoods will surely be the team to beat in the coming Fil-Am tournament,” added Escano.
The Fil Champ hopes to equal or better the performance of their Am counterparts at John Hay as Escano promised that they will continue to play well.
The Fil top flight was supposed to play at John Hay on days one and two.
But to make a twist to allow the long hitters to rally, it has been moved to BCC the first two days, said BCC spokesperson Andrew Pinero.
“That is the twist, we wanted to see the long hitters rally on the last two days,” said Pinero, but apparently the “twist” did not materialize because of the sheer performance of the Carmona, Cavite based team.
Escano, however, believes that the other teams will try to get stronger next year.
“Young golfers are getting stronger, and more creative skills wise every year.
We are just fortunate to have our current roster,” he said.
“I am sure the other teams will re-evaluate their respective programs to remain competitive. That will surely be good for the Fil-Am tournament as each annual staging of this prestigious amateur event will never be predictable nor boring,” he added.
Meanwhile, Douglas Puckett made a two over 71 at John Hay as Green Meadows improved to 303 after a 116 for a 14 point lead on Baguio Country Club (BCC) which fired 118 for 289 in Fil B.
BCC overtook Ventureslink Robros Jayworkx at second spot after the latter made 112 and 286 total.
Isabela Golf Club – Builders had a 90 for 233 points and a six shot lead on Summit Point Club in Fil E.
Summit Point made 91 for 266 and a seven point lead on Rural Bankers 2.