News of Philippine Airlines Interclub’s return to Cebu next year has galvanized the golf community with Cebu Country Club eyeing a repeat of its historic victory in 2019.
A selection process begins in November with about 30 Class A players vying for spots on the team, according to team captain Marko Sarmiento.
Three years ago, CCC pulled off a kingsize upset when it captured the overall title while playing in the second-tier Founders division.
The Cebuanos became only the second team to pull off the feat following Aguinaldo’s triumph in 1988.
PAL has yet to make the official announcement but preparations are underway among the four golf clubs that will host the two-week extravaganza.
The seniors’ event is set for 23-26 February at the Alta Vista Golf Club and Club Filipino de Cebu. The regular tournament kicks off the following week.
CCC’s roster is good enough for the Founders but Sarmiento is not discounting the possibility of contending again for the overall crown at its home course.
“Putting modesty aside, we take pride in being the most successful team in terms of fielding pure members,” Sarmiento said.
Until its landmark success in 2019, CCC has dominated the Founders division in every course that it played.
With many-time champions Luisita and Canlubang doubtful to field teams in the regular division, CCC might be elevated to the championship division.
Either way, Sarmiento said CCC is ready.
“Manila Southwoods will always be the favorite. I haven’t seen their roster but I’m sure Thirdy Escano will field a stacked team,” he said.
Sarmiento is hoping that junior standout Jacob Cajita will be available along with Seton Hall product Tyler Po.
“Since we have a qualifying process, there’s a big chance we’ll have new players. Since the pandemic, we had a surge of new Class A players who want to be part of the team,” he said.
Two spots, however, are reserved for the captain’s picks.
Among those expected to join the qualifying process are Bayani Garcia, JJ Alvarez, Mark Dy, Martin Mendoza, Gio Gandionco, Harvey Sytiongsa, Marc Gonzalez, Pio Neri, Eric Deen, Hugo Saurat, Jovi Neri, Carl Almario, Po, Cajita and Sarmiento himself.
Like in 2019, Sarmiento believes that the title will be won at the Mactan golf course.
“We knew all the teams can score at Cebu Country Club so we had to capitalize in Mactan and that’s what we did,” he recalled.