by Rey Bancod
CEBU CITY – Cebu Country Club played solidly for the second straight day and threatened to steal the limelight in the 72nd Philippine Airlines Interclub golf team championships Wednesday.
CCC, playing in the second-tier Founders division, outperformed the elite squads in the championship class to take the halfway lead.
Martin Mendoza and Jon Joseph Alvarez fired 34 and 30 points at the Mactan Island Golf Club, respectively as CCC posted a two-day total of 245, two points better than championship division leader Del Monte.
Mark Dy and Julius Pierre Neri were the other CCC scorers with 29 and 28, respectively.
The first and only time a team from the Founders division won the Interclub was in 1988 when Aguinaldo edged Canlubang for the title.
“We were even paired in the championship flight,” recalled Thirdy Escano, a member of that 1988 team and now non-playing Manila Southwoods captain.
Overshadowed by CCC’s performance was Del Monte which is looking to end a 15-year title drought.
Two remaining holdovers of the 2004 champion team spearheaded Del Monte’s charge at the Mactan Island Golf Club.
Jovencio Lusterio Jr. and Noel Langgamin carded 37 and 34 points, respectively as Del Monte overtook defending champion Manila Southwoods.
Lusterio, 26, rattled off six birdies against three bogeys and a pickup while Langgamin, 29, added three birdies against five bogeys.
With Joel Bernaldez adding 27 and Crispin Aparilla 23, Del Monte wound up with 243, two points clear of Manila Southwoods.
Southwoods, gunning for a fifth straight crown, rode on the 36 points of Adric Chan, but incurred a two-point penalty when Korean Jae Hyun Jung holed out with a double bogey instead of picking up.
Jae and Japanese Masaiche Otake added 28 each while veteran Junjun Plana chipped in 26 as Southwoods collected 116 for 241.
Tagaytay Highlands, fielding the same team that played Wednesday at the Cebu Country Club, slipped to third despite the tournament-best 40 points of Jolo Magcalayo.
Smarting from a final hole pickup Tuesday at the Cebu Country Club, Magcalayo made five birdies against a lone bogey as Highlands assembled 109 for 233, 10 points behind Del Monte.
There was little support from the rest of the Highlands team. Lisandro Opulencia returned with 24, Jonas Magcalayo struggled with 23 and Marty Ilagan contributed 22.
Luisita, tipped to give Southwoods a run for its money, continued to be a disappointment with 114 points for 232.
Jhondie Quibol and Elee Bisera, fresh recruits from Davao, made 34 and 29, respectively, Dan Emilio Cruz churned in 26 and Luis Miguel Guerrero turned in 25.
The surprising strong performances of Del Monte and even Tagaytay Highlands have placed Southwoods in a precarious position after dominating the last two staging.
“Very bad,” quipped Escano when asked about his team’s performance. “But tomorrow will be definitely a better day.”
Del Monte playing captain Raul Minoza said they hope to duplicate their 2004 success with a crew that had been training together the last four months at its home course.
Minoza, the younger brother of the legendary Frankie, will see action in the last two rounds.
This year’s Interclub is sponsored by Radio Mindanao Network, Asian Air Safari, and Vanguard Radio Network. Also extending support are ABS-CBN Global Ltd. (The Filipino Channel), Rolls Royce, Primax Broadcasting Network, UM Broadcasting Network (Mindanao), Fox Sports, Cignal TV, GECAS, Boeing, Lufthansa Technik AG, Manila Standard, Marco Polo Plaza Cebu, Dusit Thani Manila, and Casino Filipino. Official hotel is Quest Hotel Conference Center Cebu.
The partial results:
CHAMPIONSHIP – Del Monte 243 (122-121), Manila Southwoods 241 (125-116), Tagaytay Highlands 233 (124-109), Luisita 232 (118-114)
FOUNDERS – Cebu Country Club 245 (123-121), Orchard 231 (121-110), Riviera 227 (112-115), Valley 225 (108-117), Forest Hills 223 (110-113), Apo 218 (101-117), Sherwood Hills 206 (101-105), Negros Occidental 197 (106-91), Southern California Redhawks 193 (93-100), Fil-Am Golf Tour Team 1 171 (87-84), Par2000 151 (58-93)