BAGUIO CITY — The Fil-Am Invitational, acclaimed as one of the world’s biggest golf tournaments, returns to its full splendor starting on 26 November with 240 teams taking part in the two-week event to be held at Camp John Hay Golf and Country Club and Baguio Country Club in Baguio City.
After a scaled down version was held last year, the 72nd staging will feature more than 1,300 players from across the country and overseas led by Manila Southwoods which is defending its overall titles in both the regular and senior divisions.
CJH general manager Jude Eustaquio and BCC GM Anthony de Leon jointly presided over a well-attended press conference at BCC on Wednesday.
The total number of teams is 16 fewer than in 2019, mainly due to protocols laid down by the National Golf Association of the Philippines.
Eustaquio noted that 107 teams are in the waitlist, underscoring the interest enjoyed by the year-end extravaganza.
“We are not shutting the door on the possibility of accommodating more teams in the years to come,” Eustaquio said.
De Leon, who co-chairs the organizing committee with Eustaquio, said the Fil-Am Invitational is the Supreme Court of the tournaments in the country.
The Fil-Am event last year was the first major amateur tournament to be held during the pandemic, setting the benchmark for other events to follow.
The full field was made possible due to the improved Covid-19 situation and the big number of vaccinated Filipinos.
De Leon, however, said that strict Covid-19 protocols remain in place.
Only fully-vaccinated players with handicap of 28 are eligible. Those with Covid-19 symptoms will be isolated and those who hide their conditions will be disqualified, said the long-time BCC GM.
Eustaquio, a former player himself, attributed the tournament’s charm to the city’s cool weather and two great courses.
Many of the country’s top players have played the Fil-Am, including a big number of top pros.
Korean Tom Kim, already a two-time winner in the PGA Tour, and Japanese Yuto Katsuragawa, a Japan Golf Tour champion, have played the Fil-Am during their amateur days.
De Leon said Baguio will have no problem accommodating the influx of players and their families.
Manila Southwoods looms as the team to beat in both the Fil and Am divisions in both the regular and senior divisions.
“Southwoods has been dominating this event for nearly a decade now but Forest Hills and a few other new teams might give them a run for its money,” Eustaquio said.
The fight will be closer in the senior event where Luisita is fielding a formidable squad made up of Rodel Mangulabnan, Benjie Sumulong, Eddie Bagtas, Dan Cruz, Marty Ilagan and Rafael Raymundo.
Southwoods, which will field two teams, has submitted the names of Tommy Manotoc, Joseph Tambunting, Junjun Plana, Teody Pascual, Judd Roy, Manfred Guangco, Thirdy Escano, Danny Samaniego, Raul Magpantay and Raul Minoza.
The senior tournament will be held 26 November to 1 December while the regular event will commence on 6 December to 11 December.
Daily Tribune is one of the event’s media partners.