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Sambalilo Golf pro am kicks off

Ira Alido and James Ryan Lam take a break from their regional tour campaign to spice up the title chase in the first Sambalilo Golf Pro-Am tournament, which fires off Friday at the Caliraya Springs Golf Club in Cavinti, Laguna.

Alido has tapped Gabby Macalaguim while Lam is teaming up with Jet Mathay in the two-day event held in conjunction with the province’s Sambalilo Festival celebrations.

The tournament drew 67 pairs featuring the country’s leading pros and top and rising amateurs, including those in the women’s ranks.

Alido and Lam have been campaigning on the Asian Development Tour with the former also having some stints in Asian Tour events, making them A-ready for the chase for the top P100,000 purse out of the total prize fund of P500,000 in the event put up by the Municipality of Cavinti.

Meanwhile, Zanieboy Gialon, who has earlier listed Gab Manotoc as his partner, will now be playing with Romeo Lopez, still hopeful to get into the mix early in the scramble format and gain a crack at the championship at the very site where he reigned in a pro tournament recently that snapped a long title spell.

Play then shifts to four-ball Saturday with the top 10 teams to receive cash prizes and those from 11th to last to get consolation prizes.

But the rest are also coming into the event brimming with confidence, including Michael Bibat, who’s pinning his hopes on partner Edwin de Ocampo, along with Tony Lascuña with Kevin Su, Jay Bayron with Russel Salazar, Rufino Bayron with Bobby Iñigo, Jerson Balasabas with Pherham Saiddi, Robert Pactolerin with Vince Cuevas and Jhonnel Ababa with Bong Macalalad.

“I like our chances but we have to stay focused and play to our strengths,” said Bibat, whose confidence is bolstered by a recent victory that likewise ended a string of missed chances. He hopes to give his partner some good looks at birdies.

“We need to focus and give our best on every shot. My partner is a good putter so we have to have chances (for birdies) on every hole.”

Other tandems seen to contend are Ivan Monsalve with Paqo Barro, Eric Gallardo with Gus Pacheco, Joenard Rates with Ariel Azarcon, Anthony Fernando with Nolan Enriquez, Marvin Dumandan with Nolan Laloo, Rupert Zaragosa with Jandal Hataman, Boyet Zaragosa with Precious Zaragosa, Jun Bernis with Carlo Quimson, and Albin Engino with Cavinti Vice Mayor Milbert Oliveros.

Focus will also be on former national player Sean Ramos, whose team-up with Laurea Duque is expected to stir up play given the latter’s impressive run of victories in the Northern California junior tour recently.

Duque is fresh from a win in the 93rd San Francisco junior championship that capped her five-tournament title run in six events on the Junior Golf Association of Northern California tour.

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