CEBU — Despite falling way short of its opening-round target, reigning four-time PAL Interclub champion Manila Southwoods still grabbed a one-point lead over Tagaytay Highlands as the Cebu Country Club layout proved tough to crack for the talented field.
Ace Yuto Katsuragawa fired an eagle-spiked one-under-par 71 worth 37 points to lead the Carmona-based squad to a 125 tally as Tagaytay Highlands rode the 33s of Marty Ilagan and new recruit Jolo Magcalayo to emerge as the closest pursuer.
Action shifts to Mactan Island Golf Club for the next two days, and Southwoods’ non-playing skipper Thirdy Escano declared that Katsuragawa will be sitting out the next two rounds to ensure that Southwoods will have its top gun come the final day on Saturday.
“I can’t really say that I am disappointed,” Escano said after Kristoffer Arevalo, the former junior world champion, holed out for a 31 that went with the 29 of Josh Jorge and either 28 of Carl Corpus and Chepe Dulay.
“I can’t really complain because we’re still leading, and I hope that this (round) will turn out to be our bad day for the week,” added Escano, a member of the Southwoods team that won the first of its four successive titles also here in Cebu.
Jolo Magcalayo picked up on the 18th hole after missing his second putt for a bogey, and Highlands counted the 30 of Jonas Magcalayo and the 28 of Lisandro Opulencia for its 124, two points ahead of perennial contender Del Monte Golf, which got a level 36 from Romeo Jaraula.
Luisita, the Senior champion last week, was seven shots off after a 118 built around the 32 of Luigi Paolo Wong and the 31 of Don Petil.
“You have to consider where a player can play his best,” Escano said, when asked why he will bench Katsuragawa at Mactan, an easier course compared to the well-manicured Cebu CC. “He’s a lot more familiar here (Cebu CC) and this is where we can maximize his game.”
Young Jung-oh’s 22 failed to count for Tagaytay Highlands, which was supposed to play in the lower Founders Division but found itself ranged against the big boys at the last minute after the addition of Jolo Magcalayo.
Highlands also has a formidable bench, with Raymund Sangil and Jenz Tecson in the roster.
“We played really bad and yet we’re just seven behind even if our ace almost failed to count,” non-playing Luisita skipper Jeric Hechanova said, referring to many-time national champion Rupert Zaragosa, who returned 26 points.
Dan Cruz fired 29 points and was the third best scorer for the Luisitans.
This year’s Interclub is sponsored by Radio Mindanao Network, Asian Air Safari, and Vanguard Radio Network. Also extending support are ABS-CBN Global Ltd. (The Filipino Channel), Rolls Royce, Primax Broadcasting Network, UM Broadcasting Network (Mindanao), Fox Sports, Cignal TV, GECAS, Boeing, Lufthansa Technik AG, Manila Standard, Marco Polo Plaza Cebu, Dusit Thani Manila, and Casino Filipino. Official hotel is Quest Hotel Conference Center Cebu.