Wide-open Men’s Interclub race seen

For probably the first time in its rich history, the Philippine Airlines Interclub’s Men’s championship event promises to have a wide-open fight after the new handicapping system was implemented for the 64th edition of the country’s longest running and most prestigious amateur golf team event.
Talents that used to play for just one or two teams have now been evenly spread, making it anybody’s race when the Men’s event tees off Feb. 23 at the Pueblo de Oro layout in Cagayan de Oro and the Del Monte course in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon.
Canlubang is the defending champion in the event, but the Sugar Barons will have their work cut out for them after losing their nucleus to the pro ranks and World Amateur veteran Jessie Balasabas to the handicapping system.
Each team will now be required to form a 10-man squad with an overall handicap rating of 62, meaning that each player should carry a handicap of 6.2 according to their PAL Interclub stints.
Should a rookie see action, his home course handicap will be used.
Balasabas, owing to a good showing last year in the Sugar Barons’ fifth straight conquest in Negros, has a near-scratch PAL average, forcing Canlubang to look for other players in order to fit in the new system.
The Country Club, the second placer in each of the last two years, will field in practically the same lineup after some of its players posted high scores last year at the Marapara and Binitin courses in Negros.
Del Monte will have reigning Philippine Amateur champion Clyde Mondilla backstopping its squad as it aims to win its second Men’s title in its home turf, the same way it did in 2004 when the Interclub first visited Northern Mindanao.
The event actually gets going with the Seniors championship on Feb. 16 where PAL president Jaime Bautista will hit the ceremonial drive.
Luisita is the defending champion and it aims to hold off perennial contender Canlubang and the ageless Tommy Manotoc from wresting back the crown the Barons last won in Davao.
This year’s competition is backed by platinum sponsors Boeing, Radio Mindanao Network, Business Mirror and Interactive Broadcast Media (DWWW).
Major sponsors are People Asia, 105.1 Crossover , GE Aviation and Traversing the Orient.
Also lending support are corporate sponsor Manila Bulletin and Bombo Radyo Philippines, while minor sponsors are Lufthansa Technik Philippines, MasterCard and Century Park Hotel.
Prize donors include Panasonic Avionics and Tanduay. More detailed information on the tournament is available on the dedicated PAL Interclub webpage at http://www.philippineairlines.com/events/events.jsp.(PR)

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