Luisita is fielding the same players that ended Canlubang’s four-year reign in the Philippine Airlines Senior Interclub golf championships, but rates itself as the underdog when the annual event goes to Northern Mindanao on Feb. 16.
“Canlubang is definitely the favorite,” said Iggy Clavecilla, one of Luisita’s top guns. “I’ve played with some of them and they’re playing great.”
Clavecilla mentioned Tommy Manotoc, Dave Hernandez and Jose Mari Gonzales of Canlubang as the men to watch in the four-day, four-to-play, three-to-count team event.
Last year, Luisita rode on the heroics of Francis Gaston to score a come-from-behind victory over Canlubang in Bacolod City.
Gaston, rebounding from a poor round at the Binitin course, matched par at Marapara, his home course, beating Manotoc by four shots in the final round.
Aside from Clavecilla and Gaston, the other Luisita returnees are Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman Richie Garcia, Pepot Inigo, Bong Sison, Carlo Gamban, Lino Magpantay and Herminio Maravilla.
Clavecilla, one of the team’s sparkplugs, admitted that his game is not 100 percent, adding that some of his teammates are also busy with work.
“Richie, for instance, has not been playing golf like he used to since his appointment as PSC chairman,” said Clavecilla.
Luisita is the most successful seniors’ team with 14 championships.
The event, a prelude to the regular men’s event, will be played at Pueblo de Oro in Cagayan de Oro and Del Monte course in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon.
Nearly half of the 89-team seniors’ field are from overseas with teams from Las Vegas, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Honolulu,Vancouver, Guam, Saipan and Tokyo as new entrants.
After a two-day break, action in the men’s regular event kicks off on Feb. 23 with Canlubang facing a stiff challenge following the adoption of a new handicapping system.
Out to challenge Canlubang’s five-year grip of the title are The Country Club, Manila Southwoods and Del Monte.
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 www.philippineairlines.com/events/events.jsp.