CEBU Country Club, seeking back-to-back titles, barely made it out on top of a day of ballooning scores, shooting 120 points at tight Mactan Island Golf Club for a one point lead over Del Monte at the start of the 66th PAL Interclub men’s golf championship on Wednesday.
Burly Bayani Garcia and teenager Lloyd Jefferson Go both churned out four-over-par 76s worth 32 points each, Jovi Neri added 30, with either 26 of Mark Dy and Carl Almario counting.
Del Monte got 34 points from 15-year-old Jelbert Gamolo, 30 from Noel Langamin and the 28 and 27 of Francis Morilla and Leonardo Lofranco for its 119, which was two points better than third-running Alabang.
Jovencio Lusterio failed to count with a 25 for Del Monte, the 2011 champion.
Lefty Andres Saldana, a talented 18-year-old who has his eyes on a professional career, and veteran campaigner Justin Quiban each shot 32 with Miguel Shah firing a 27 and Dax Garcia pooling 26 points for Alabang, labeled as the dark horse in the event. Christopher Popp, a junior talent, had a 25 that did not count for Alabang.
“Despite the 32, I thought I played well,” the 27-year-old Garcia said. “We hope to separate from the pack when we play our home course (on Thursday).”
Most of those in the field were punished by the tight and hard fairways and the very slow greens of the military-operated layout in Lapu-Lapu City, with Cebu CC going 17-over after its final player finished his fifth hole.
In Founders action also at Mactan, Orchard shot 114 points built around the 30 of TJ Benitez and the 29 of King Stehmeier for a nine-point lead over Southwoods. Allan Arcilla fired a 28 and Ace Stehmeier 27 for Orchard.
Steve Yoon paced Southwoods with 31 points even as Apo took third spot with a 103 after getting 29 points from Jose Saavedra. Negros and Eagle Ridge also pooled 103s.
Defending Founders champion Wack Wack got off to a bad start, scoring just 99 points to trail Orchard by 15.
“I had even thought that we would be shooting 124 on the first day, and that’s an average of just 31 for each player, which is low,” Cebu CC official Jeric Hechanove said. “We didn’t get the strong start that we wanted, but at least we are in the lead.”
Sta. Elena was a distant fourth with 97 points after getting 31 points from former senior match play champion Jingy Tuason and 26 from Yuri Allado in the tournament sponsored by the Department of Tourism, 105.1 Crossover, Solar Sports, Plantation Bay Resort and Spa, 92.3 FM Radyo 5, Araneta Coliseum and AXN. Major sponsors are Airbus, Manila Broadcasting Corporation, Philippine Broadcasting Network, People Asia, Radio Mindanao Network, Business Mirror and ABS-CBN The Filipino Channel.
Philippine Sports Commission chair Richie Garcia, who also played for Luisita in the Seniors division last week, scored a 22 with the 18 of Pepito Angeles counting as the last score for Sta. Elena in the event also supported by corporate sponsors Radisson Blu Hotel, Shangri-La Resort & Spa, Boeing, Inquirer Golf Magazine, Philippines Graphic and Manila Bulletin.
Second-round action is set at Cebu Country Club, a well-manicured gem right at the heart of this city, where the defending champions are expected to hit hard with a lineup that has eight-time club champion and playing skipper Montito Garcia.