CEBU Cebu Country Club puts its bid for a PAL Interclub treble in motion starting Wednesday at the Bacolod Golf and Country Club in Murcia town and it will try to again fend off all-comers with two relative neophytes in Kiyofumi Takahashi and Harvey Sytongsa.
The Cebu-based squad definitely need to get good numbers from the two as they try to fill in the shoes of aces Mark Dy and Lloyd Jefferson Go.
Takahashi has some Interclub experience, suiting up four years ago and doing quite well, but Sytongsa, a 17-year-old product of Cebu CC’s grassroots program, will be put in the fire for the first time.
There are a very few teams that have won three straight years, and Cebu will be playing with a sense of destiny to finally belong to the tournament’s elite.
And the absence of Dy, who has turned pro, and Go, the reigning national champion on a golfing scholarship in the United States, has tilted the balance of power somewhat with several clubs emerging as legitimate title threats.
Del Monte also has a solid core that has been toughened up by stints here in the past and Alabang is itching for that breakthrough win using some of the best young talents in the country led by lefty Andres Saldana.
Orchard also looks to be ripe for the picking, and Southwoods is raring to get back its once-lofty status as former pro Antonio Asistio returns to banner the Carmona-based squad.
Montito Garcia, Carl Almario and many-time club champion Eric Deen are the biggest guns of Cebu CC, which welcomes back Jovi Neri, Marko Sarmiento, Andre Borromeo, Gen Nagai and the burly Bayani Garcia.
The Cebuanos remain the favorites mainly because both the Bacolod GCC and the Negros Occidental Golf and Country Club (Marapara) greatly resemble their tree-lined, exclusive layout back home.
This year's Interclub is being co-sponsored by CrossOver with Boeing, Philippines Graphic, Stargate Media (People Asia) and Rogue as corporate backers. Also lending support are Airbus, Business Mirror, One Mega Group (Travel Now), Philippine Broadcasting Corporation, Manila Broadcasting Corporation, Petron and Manila Bulletin.
Magno Arancon spearheads Del Monte, the champion five years ago at Manolo Fortich in Bukidnon. Arancon will be coming off a third place finish in the DHL Am last week in Laguna.
Justin Quiban, who saw action for the Philippine Team in the Southeast Asian Games last year, Basti Lorenzo, Miguel Shah and Gabriel Manotoc will be the main support for Saldana, who will turn pro next month and would like nothing less than steer his club to the championship for the perfect going away present.