FIL-Championship titlist San Miguel-Northern Cement looks to retain the crown without Rupert Zaragoza, a key player from last year’s champion squad now seeing action for Forest Hills, while eight-time champion Manila Southwoods tries to gain back the crown as the Fil-Am Golf Invitational gets under way on Tuesday at Baguio Country Club.
“Bahala na kahit wala si Rupert lalaban kami,” said San Miguel captain Eddie Bagtas, who last week helped San Miguel-NCC claim its second straight title in the Seniors Fil Championship.
“We won last year with Rupert with us, but then the boy left for Forest Hills. But then we have to take our chances. Bahala na kahit wala si Rupert. It’s anybody’s game,” said Bagtas, a former pro.
With Bagtas in the San Miguel squad are Jelbert Gamolo, GJ Katigbak, Gabby Manotoc and Meynard Ko.
Southwoods, winner of seven straight from 1996 to 2002, has Yuto Katsuragawa, Kristoffer Arevalo and Ryan Monsalve, returning to erase ghost of last year’s last day collapse when they lose by four to San Miguel.
Joining them in the team are Ira Anido, Aidric Chan and Carl Corpus.
“We ave a very young team this year, particularly in for the Fil Championship division in line with Manila Southwoods program of showcasing emerging youthful talents to infuse excitement and drama in the 67th edition of this annual event,” said Thirdy Escano of Southwoods.
“Though our players may be young, they all possess the skills, discipline and drive to secure the Fil Championship plum for our club.”
Zaragosa has found a home at Forest Hills, his third team in the Fil-Am since he first saw action just three years ago with then AAV Robros Venturelinks.
Now he hopes to lift the title with Juson Eustaquio, Dan Cruz, Luigi Miguel Guerero and JP de Claro with Forest Hills, which last won in 2013.
Carlo Villaroman banners Royal Northwoods, which hopes to win in its second year in the tournament presented by San Miguel.
Northwoods will have Luis Castro, Richard Joson, Carlo Gatmaytan and Richnell Albano to back Villaroman.
Mizuno Ecoverde, the 2014 champion, returns anew with the King Stehmeier, Rodel Mangalubnan, Justin Limjap, Noel Langamin and former pro Ray Sangil.
Other teams this year in the premiere flight are 2014 near champions Che’lus of Guam and Team Time Cargo Masters under Theody Pascual.
Escano said the Am team “is a mixture of dependability and experience. I can confidentally say both our Fil and Am teams will live up to expectations of taking top honors by weekend.”
Southwoods will have again Junjun Plana leading with Chepe Dulay, former San Miguel player Lanz Uy, Jose Sajulga, Joo Hyung Kim and Liam Cully.
Also seeing action are Alaska Royalink, Batangas Barakos, Forest Hills Palmers, Leeward Fil-Am Golf, Mizuno Ecoverde and Team Sparta of Escano.