Several marquee names will be absent in the 64th Philippine Airlines Men’s Interclub when the annual event gets going next week in Cagayan de Oro City and Bukidnon.
But what it lacks in star appeal, the event makes up for more exciting battle in the championship division.
Asian Games silver medalist Miguel Tabuena and fellow national player Jerson Balasabas will not see action, as well as United States-based Jude Eustaquio and Marcel Puyat.
In fact, the only big names competing are reigning national champion Clyde Mondilla, Jobim Carlos, world junior titlist Rupert Saragoza and the ageless Tommy Manotoc.
Tabuena has begged off due to his studies while Balasabas is now preparing to turn pro.
Hardest hit is Canlubang which lost Mark Fernando and Jonnel Ababa to the pro ranks, leaving Carlos, Manotoc and Zaragoza to carry the fight for the defending champions.
Winners of the last five Interclubs, the Sugar Barons face an uphill battle against three teams that have been given equal chances with the adoption of the handicapping system this year.
Canlubang and The Country Club finished 1-2 last year in Bacolod City with team averages of 69 and 67 points, respectively. Del Monte and Cebu Country Club were the next best teams with 59 apiece.
By putting a team cap of 62 points, the gap that separates Canlubang and TCC with the rest of the field has been reduced.
“This year’s Interclub will no longer be a dual meet,” said Interclub tournament director Buddy Resurreccion. “Any of the four teams can win this year.”
Resurreccion clarified that the cap applies only to the team and not the players.
“We’re not stopping them from fielding scratch players as long as they meet the requirements,” he said.
The regular Interclub will be held Feb. 23-26 at the El Pueblo Golf and Country Club in Cagayan de Oro and the Del Monte Golf Club in Bukidnon.
This year’s competition is backed by platinum sponsors Boeing, Airbus, 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)