Two of the finest championship courses in the land, Apo Golf and Rancho Palos Verdes, are being spruced up and are close to being perfect when the 70th Philippine Airlines Interclub gets off the ground with the Seniors Division seeing action on Feb. 22 in Davao City.
Apo, long regarded as probably the toughest layout in the south, is again expected to decide both the Seniors and Regular Men’s championships, with both divisions to play their final rounds at the tree-lined layout.
Palos Verdes, meanwhile, will host the second and third rounds of both divisions, and could tell on any team’s campaigns with the prospect of going low over the well-manicured layout always present, especially on players who are long off the tees.
“We did an ocular (inspection) on both and they are gorgeous,” Henry Arabelo, the tournament director, said. “We will set up both courses to challenge the players while at the same time make it an enjoyable tournament for everyone.”
Agriculture Secretary Manny Pinol and defense chief Delfin Lorenzana will hit the ceremonial drives opening both divisions in place of President Rodrigo Duterte, who used to play a lot at Apo Golf and even had local pro star Jay Bayron as caddy in the 1990s.
Canlubang, which has had a lot of success at Apo in the past, will be defending its Seniors division title against bitter rival Luisita.
The Sugar Barons, though, will be without Tommy Manotoc, the many-time individual champion who went to the United States a couple of days ago to be with his son, Gabriel, in his first NCAA tournament.
Manila Southwoods, which owns the most successful youth program in the land nowadays, will shoot for a third straight Men’s championship using the core that overwhelmed the opposition last year in Pampanga.
Southwoods, though, will be without Justin Quiban, who has since turned pro, putting much of the spearheading chores on reedy Japanese teenager Yuto Katsuragawa and Ryan Monsalve.
Luisita, which is also embarking on a youth program of its own, is expected to fare a lot better in its second year back in the Men’s ranks, while Canlubang and Cebu Country Club remain as threats.
The 70th edition of the PAL Interclub is being supported by Mareco Broadcasting Network, A&E Networks Asia, Radio Mindanao Network, The Manila Standard, Fox Networks Group, Rolls Royce, TV5, TFC (ABS-CBN) as well as Asian Air Safari, Airbus and Primax Broadcasting Network.
Corporate sponsors include Baron Travel, Boeing, MX3, GE Aviation, Bombo Radyo, Asia Brewery and Sabre Airline Solutions. Donors include Shangri-la, Trinity Insurance and Eton Properties.