THE Duel - North vs. South unwraps Wednesday at the Alabang Golf and Country Club in the second regional showdown featuring the country’s finest and a host of future stars.
Skippers of both teams stress the need for a quick start in local pro golf’s version of the Ryder Cup.
“With both teams having strong and balanced lineups, it is possible for either team to make a sweep in the first two days...4-0, 0-4...I feel it will be a great, tough series,” said North team captain Angelo Que, winner of the ICTSI Orchard Championship two weeks ago.
Play will be fourball (best ball) starting at 7 a.m. and foursomes (alternate shot) in the afternoon with four matches set in the first two days. Twelve singles matches are set Friday, with the first team to win 14 1/2 points clinching the Duel, according to Colo Ventosa, general manager of the organizing Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Team South, skippered by Jerome Delariarte, features last year’s ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour Order of Merit champion Tony Lascuña, former Asian Tour and local circuit’s No. 1 Juvic Pagunsan and this year’s John Hay leg winner Jay Bayron along with Clyde Mondilla, Marvin Dumandan, Mhark Fernando and last year’s team captain Charles Hong.
“Yes, either team can make a sweep. But what we want is a good start. Hopefully – a lead going into the singles,” said Delariarte, who will also bank on the likes of Zanie Boy Gialon, Elmer Saban, Rufino Bayron, Ferdie Aunzo and Jhonnel Ababa.
“If we'll be a few points back, it won’t bother the boys because they know they can come from behind like last year.”
The Southerners fell behind in the first two days but struck in the singles matches, winning nine of 12 en route to a 16-12 romp in the inaugural staging of the event spicing up the local tour sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc.
Completing the North team roster are Jun Bernis, Randy Garalde, Joenard Rates and Benjie Magada.
With the par-72 layout in top shape, a shootout looms right in the morning matches with Que spearheading his team’s bid together with Mars Pucay in a showdown with Lascuna and Mondilla at 7 a.m.
Pagunsan, out to make an impact after missing the event last year, teams up with Rufino Bayron against the North’s Miguel Tabuena and Edward Reyes at 7:10 a.m.
Michael Bibat and former Philippine Open champion Gerald Rosales battle the South tandem of Dumandan and Gialon at 7:20.
Jay Bayron and Aunzo will then test the mettle of young North players Carl Santos-Ocampo and James Ryan Lam at 7:30 a.m.
Pairings in the afternoon foursomes will be made after the morning matches.
Players who saw action in the pro-am tournament Monday said the course condition is good although the greens are firmer than last year.
Both teams held their last practice round on Tuesday and all members are looking forward to an explosive start in the three-day backed by KIA, Ping, Nike Golf, Custom Clubmakers, Mizuno, Pacsports, Callaway, Cleveland, FootJoy, Srixon, Titleist, Empire Golf and Sports Shop and Sharp.
"The course is in great shape," said golf manager Bones Floro, who expects nothing but a battle royale right in the opening matches.