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74th PAL Interclub gets going with favorites mum on starting crews

CEBU — The big guns are keeping their cards close to their chests with defending champion Canlubang shooting “just to keep it close” after the first day of skirmishes Wednesday in the 74th Philippine Airlines Interclub Seniors championship here.

The opening round will be at well-manicured Alta Vista and Cangolf mainstay Tommy Manotoc refused to bare their opening four even as Luisita is having its practice round late Tuesday with non-playing skipper Jeric Hechanova deciding hours after.

“We just want to keep it close after the first round,” Mr. Manotoc said when asked of the type of lineup that will get Cangolf’s title defense under way. “What I can tell you is that we can’t afford to fall behind big early, because Luisita is very, very strong.”

Mr. Hechanova, meanwhile, said that players who play well in the team’s practice round under heavy rain on the eve of the event will get the call as he emphasized his belief that there won’t be one course that will decide this year’s edition.

“We have to play well all four days,” Mr. Hechanova explained. “Our players know that we can’t wait for the other teams to play bad. If they (opponents) play well, we need to play great.”

Manila Southwoods and Del Monte are the other teams in the Championship division, although Manotoc believes that Cebu Country Club, even if it is playing in the lower Founders class, is a contender for the overall title.

Club Filipino will host the next two rounds, and Mr. Manotoc sees this one as the tiring version of the two mountain layouts.

“Anything can happen there,” Mr. Manotoc said. “Anyone with local knowledge of that course definitely has an advantage.”

The annual event, considered the country’s unofficial national team championship, was shelved for two years due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the 74th staging of the event is supported by platinum sponsors ABS-CBN Global, Asian Journal, Airbus, and NUSTAR Resort and Casino.

Gold sponsors include Radio Mindanao Network, Mastercard, Primax, University of Mindanao Broadcasting Network, PLDT/Smart, and Konsulta MD.

Joining the event as silver sponsors are Philippine National Bank (PNB), Biocostech, and VISA.

Minor sponsors are Bollore Logistics, Manila Standard, Tanduay Brands International, and Asia Brewery while donors are Department of Tourism, Ogawa, Newport World Resorts, Rolls Royce, and Boeing.

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