CEBU CITY – Luisita got the better of arch-rival Canlubang in a thrilling final-day showdown to regain the Philippine Airlines (PAL) Seniors Interclub championship on Saturday at the Alta Vista Golf Club.
Its six-point overnight lead down to a single point, Luisita dug deep as the final four Championship Division flights went down to the final holes then found an unlikely hero in former University of Santo Tomas basketball player Edmund Yee.
Yee, now a successful businessman, showed steely nerves by going one-under through the three finishing holes while flightmate Damasus Wong of Canlubang came undone with two tee shots that sailed out of bounds.
Wong's bogey-pick-up-double-bogey finish led to a seven-shot swing that enabled the Tarlac-based squad to wrest the championship it won two years ago in Davao but lost last year in another close finish in Bacolod City.
"This has got to be one of the closest finishes in the PAL Seniors Interclub in recent years," said Luisita non-playing captain Jeric Hechanova before celebrating the Tarlac-based squad's 17th championship overall.
Luisita beat Canlubang by three shots in the final tally, 569-566, in a four-day battle that shouldn't have been close had it not been for the disqualification of Benjie Sumulong for signing the wrong scorecard in Day Two and a two-shot penalty assessed on former pro Demy Saclot for holing out for a triple bogey.
The Tarlac-based squad had to endure a lot more anxious moments on the final day as Canlubang cut Luisita's overnight lead by half after Abe Rosal edged Chino Raymundo, 49-46, in the first flight out.
Wong's running one-over card had the two fierce rivals separated by just a shot before his late collapse.
“I think the key to our victory was the extra practice we did last month,” said Hechanova, who bared the team flew to Cebu in February to check out the courses. “We were able to identify which players to field. We knew that Eddie (Bagtas) would not fare well at Club Filipino de Cebu.”
Bagtas finished with 50 points in the final flight against the 52 of fellow ex-pro Rolly Viray of Canlubang. Yee and Rafael Garcia were the other scorers for Luisita with 49 and 46 under the four-to-play, three-to-count format.
Wong limped home with a 47 for Canlubang.
Viray was the only Canlubang player to break 50 in four days in the event sponsored by Radio Mindanao Network, Asian Air Safari, and Vanguard Radio Network.
Del Monte Golf Club finished third with 552 points after closing out with a 144 behind the 54 of Ramon Velez, the 46 of Erning Apas and the 44 of Florencio Badelic.
First-round leader Cebu Country Club wound up fourth with 543 after Ramontito Garcia (51), Nonoy Tirol (46) and Jufil Sato (44) pooled a final-day 141.
Day 4 scores:
Championship – Luisita 569 (138-138-148-145), Canlubang 566 (138-140-140-148), Del Monte 569 (138-138-148-145), Cebu Country Club 543 (142-131-129-141)