CEBU — The Philippine Airlines Interclub starts its reboot on Wednesday with Seniors action, a division usually reserved for players who are calculating and reserved.
This year could be the exception as the 72-hole championship for those 55 years old and above will see four new faces who are used to the aggressive play, which could ultimately spell the difference for their respective teams.
Marty Ilagan, who once entertained thoughts of turning pro, Ronnie Littaua, who spearheaded the Forest Hills men’s team for a long time, Carl Almario, a former pro who has innate knowledge of the two courses to be used this week, and Jun Jun Plana, who until the start of the pandemic anchored the highly-successful Manila Southwoods men’s program, will be making their seniors debuts and loom as players to watch.
Messrs. Ilagan and Littaua have come in to infuse youth to the talent-laden Luisita squad, while Mr. Almario joins an already loaded Cebu Country Club lineup that put the home squad in the mix as title contender in what is regarded as the country’s unofficial club team championship. Mr. Plana, meanwhile, will ditch the old stabilizer role he used to play at Southwoods as he becomes the Carmona-based squad’s tip of the sword in trying to foil another Canlubang-Luisita fight for the title.
“They could provide the big difference,” Cangolf mainstay Tommy Manotoc said of the new faces in their division. “They are longer than (the old players), that’s for sure. And with the tournament playing forward tees, we could expect fireworks.”
Canlubang is the defending champion and is the only team in the Championship division which didn’t tinker with its lineup that also has the steady Abe Rosal and the seasoned Rolly Viray.
“I have no expectations,” Mr. Ilagan, a Tarlac native, said. “I will just go out there and help my team the best way I can.”
Alta Vista and Club Filipino will host the tournament, with a number of the veterans seeing the title to be decided in the Danao layout that has so many blind holes that local knowledge will be key.
The annual event, considered the country’s unofficial national team championship, was shelved for two years due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the 74th staging of the event is supported by platinum sponsors ABS-CBN Global, Asian Journal, Airbus, and NUSTAR Resort and Casino.
Gold sponsors include Radio Mindanao Network, Mastercard, Primax, University of Mindanao Broadcasting Network, PLDT/Smart, and Konsulta MD.
Joining the event as silver sponsors are Philippine National Bank (PNB), Biocostech, and VISA.
Minor sponsors are Bollore Logistics, Manila Standard, Tanduay Brands International, and Asia Brewery while donors are Department of Tourism, Ogawa, Newport World Resorts, Rolls Royce, and Boeing.