Canlubang bounced back from a lethargic second round by getting the goods Saturday from ageless Tommy Manotoc to zoom to an 11-point lead over defending champion Luisita heading into the final round of Senior Championship action in the 64th Philippine Airlines Interclub.
The 61-year-old Manotoc fired a tournament-best two-under-par 70 worth 56 points at soggy Del Monte Club in Bukidnon, anchoring a torrid charge by the Sugar Barons, who pooled 154 for the day for 460 overall that put Luisita’s repeat bid in serious peril.
Manotoc, using a new set of custom-fitted Ping set, will again come out for the final round at Pueblo de Oro in Cagayan de Oro Sunday as he again acts as stabilizer to a formidable Canlubang quartet that will also have Philip Brodett, former pro Rolly Viray and Mari Hechanova.
Pepot Inigo was the best man for Luisita, shooting 51 points in his pairing with Manotoc, to lead the defending champions to a third round 147 and a 54-hole tally of 449.
Luisita, which came up with a swirling final day charge to win last year in Negros, would need nothing but the best from old hands Iggy Clavecilla and Francis Gaston in the final round to give its title-retention bid a chance.
“It looks good,” Manotoc said of the gap separating his squad from Luisita. “But it’s never over till it’s over. But definitely, it looks really, really good.”
Gaston will be coming off a woeful 45-point performance at Del Monte on Friday, while Clavecilla will be seeking a follow-up to a sterling 55-point effort that boosted Luisita to within four points of the Cangolf lead after the second round.
Carlo Gamban and Lino Magpantay, who contributed heavily last year by counting in both rounds, are the others who will play the final round for Luisita.
Bing Bunye counted with a 46 for the Barons, who also got 52 points from burly Tony Olives.
Bong Sison and Minying Maravilla accounted for 48s for the other two Luisita scores after Philippine Sports Commission chairman Richie Garcia, who pooled 50 points in the inaugurals at Pueblo, struggled to post 41 to be excluded for the day.
And while the Championship Division has been limited to a battle between the Barons and Luisita, a tight and gripping finish is also expected in the Founders side, but among four teams after Manila Golf wrested the 54-hole lead also at Del Monte.
OV Espiritu, the former bank executive, fired 50 points and Dodo Cu-Unjieng a 46 to make up the bulk of Manila Golf’s 139 and 424 total for a one-point lead over overnight leader Camp John Hay and Cebu Country Club.
The bets from Baguio struggled, with the 46 of Mars Garcia good enough to pace the team. Clyde Cabreros chipped in with 45 and Goody Ignacio 44 for CJH, while Cebu rallied with a 143 built around Roichi Horit’s 51 to get into the mix for Sunday’s final round at Pueblo de Oro.
Efren Sarmiento contributed 47 and Masatsugu Ochiai 45 for Cebu.
Del Monte is actually just five off the pace after the hosts put their best team to score 151 and be at 419 with Bert Langamin shooting 52, Nonoy Dulfo 51 and Macky Bienes 48.
Zamboanga golf, meanwhile, practically put a lock on the Friendship Division crown after opening up a 16-point lead over Fil-Am SFO with Danny Cordero shooting 45, Alex Marquez 39 and Benjie Chong 37 for 121 and 356.
Don Gomez fired 41 points, Rollie Rendon 36 and Dante Foronda for Fil-Am SFO’s 112 for 340 overall.
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, Asia Brewery Inc. and Traversing the Orient.
Also lending support are corporate sponsors 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.palinterclub.com. (pr)