DAVAO: A Manila Southwoods side that parades some of the best amateur golfers in the land has been labeled as the solid favorite as the 70th edition of the Philippine Airlines (PAL) Interclub gets off the ground today at the Apo Golf and Rancho Palos Verdes layouts here.
Reedy Japanese teenager Yuto Katsuragawa spearheads the Carmona-based squad as it searches its first “three-peat” in what is regarded as the country’s unofficial team golf championship.
First round play will be at tree-lined Apo Golf before action in the next two goes to well-manicured Palos Verdes, and Southwoods’ non-playing skipper Thirdy Escano believes that this tournament will be won at Apo, which is the final round venue.
“Whichever team scores well at Apo will have a great chance to win,” Escano said yesterday after overseeing his team’s official practice round in what is considered one of the toughest tests in the South. “Apo will decide the champion. I have no doubt about it.”
Escano, though, refuses to acknowledge the edge with Canlubang to parade the multi-titled Rupert Zaragosa yet again and Luisita and Del Monte also being represented by products of their respective programs that center on young players.
Carlo Villaroman, JP De Claro and Luis Castro will be Zaragosa’s main supporting cast even as Del Monte will be bannered by former national team member Jelbert Gamolo.
Luisita, four days removed from winning the Seniors title, shoots for a sweep of the tournament with a team that will parade two members of that victorious squad – Eddie Bagtas and Jingy Tuason – which the team has mixed with young talents like Dan Cruz and Luis Miguel Guerrero.
The 70th PAL Interclub Platinum sponsors are Mareco Broadcasting Network, A&E Networks Asia, RMN Networks, The Manila Standard, Fox Networks Group, Rolls-Royce, TV5, MasterCard, TFC and Business Mirror.
Major sponsors include Asian Air Safari, Airbus, Primax Broadcasting Network and Sabre Airline Solutions while Corporate sponsors are Baron Travel Corporation, Boeing, MX3, GE Aviation, Bombo Radyo Philippines, Asia Brewery, Tanduay Distillers, Sabre Airline Solutions and Tourism Promotions Board.
The donors are Shangri-La at The Fort, Trinity Insurance and Eton Properties.
A total of 80 teams are entered in the four-day, five-division event which ends on Saturday. They will play at the Apo Golf and Country Club and Rancho Palos Verde.