DAVAO – Manila Southwoods pooled 136 points at tree-lined Apo Golf Club to open an 11-point lead over Canlubang after the first 18 holes of the 70th Philippine Airlines (PAL) Interclub Men’s Championship on Wednesday.
Young Carl Corpus fired a one-over-par 73 worth 35 points, veteran Jun Jun Plana and Jets Sajulga accounted for 34s and Kristoffer Arevalo completed the balanced attack with 33 as the Carmona-based golfers got their “three-peat” bid off to a rip-roaring start.
“Yes, this is the start that we want,” non-playing skipper Thirdy Escano said after congratulating anchor Plana on the ninth green, the team’s last hole. “But this is just the first round. We need to continue playing well.”
Jolo Magcalayo matched par for 36 points, Luis Castro fired 34 and Jakey Yulo accounted for 29 to make up the bulk of Cangolf’s 125. But the Sugar Barons had to count the 26 of JP De Claro, who couldn’t bounce back from a poor start.
So efficient was Southwoods that it had to throw away the 29 of Tom Kim, while Cangolf’s struggles were highlighted by lanky Fernando Zaldarriaga's woeful 24 that, thankfully, didn't count under the five-to-play, four-to-count format.
“We were not expected to win this anyway,” Cangolf owner Luigi Yulo said. “This is a good effort on the part of the boys and there’s still a lot of golf left to be played.”
Action shifts to Rancho Palos Verdes for the second and third rounds and Cangolf will be sending out the multi-titled Rupert Zaragosa to lead its second five - and hopefully close the gap.
Luisita was 21 points behind after a 115 built around the 32 of Josh Jorge, while Del Monte pooled 111 after Noel Langgamin fired a 32 and Mel Cubillo 31.
“The important thing for us is to not allow (Canlubang) to gain ground (in the second round),” Escano, a member of several champion Southwoods teams in the past, said. “I still expect scoring to be very close at Palos (Verdes) and we must keep them at bay.”
Southwoods still has Yuto Katsuragawa, Aidric Chan, Ira Alido, Liam Cully and Jama Reyes kept in the freezer in the first round and this five could be more explosive than the one that came out on Wednesday.
Escano, though, refused to say who will see action for the second day while stressing the need to come up with a scheme that would allow him to field his finest five for the final day on Saturday, which will also be at Apo Golf.
“This is where the tournament will be decided. I have no doubt about that,” he said. “Big (point) swings can take place here.”
The 70th PAL Interclub Platinum sponsors are Mareco Broadcasting Network, A&E Networks Asia, RMN Networks, The Manila Standard, Fox Networks Group, Rolls-Royce, TV5, MasterCard, TFC and Business Mirror.
Major sponsors include Asian Air Safari, Airbus, Primax Broadcasting Network and Sabre Airline Solutions while Corporate sponsors are Baron Travel Corporation, Boeing, MX3, GE Aviation, Bombo Radyo Philippines, Asia Brewery, Tanduay Distillers, Sabre Airline Solutions and Tourism Promotions Board.
The donors are Shangri-La at The Fort, Trinity Insurance and Eton Properties.
A total of 83 teams are entered in the four-day, five-division event which ends on Saturday. They will play at the Apo Golf and Country Club and Rancho Palos Verdes.