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‘BCC is God’s course’

Baguio City — Chris Howard describes Baguio Country Club in Baguio City as God’s course.

“Hope God will have mercy on us,” Howard said while working on his putting stroke at the practice green Tuesday.

Howard, a four-handicapper, is the top gun of Mamala Bay which is running third in the senior Fil-Championship division after two rounds at Camp John Hay Golf Club.

The tall, left-handed American shot the tournament’s best round, posting 40 points on Monday as Mamala Bay stayed two shots behind second-placed Luisita.

“We came here to finish at least in the Top 3,” said Howard who last played at the Fil-Am in 2017.

His encounter with a white butterfly before teeing off on Monday turned out to be a blessing for Howard.

“I have never killed an animal. I just brushed it away,” said Howard who made only two bogeys while collecting six birdies.

“The putts just started to drop. I was lucky to have the ball in the right spots,” he said.

The American said the green at CJH is the fastest he has ever played with this year.

“I was able to adjust with the speed of the greens,” he added.

The greens at the BCC, however, will be slower, prompting the American team to take advantage of the rest day to practice putting.

“It’s a different grass out here,” said Rusty Barfield who has the lowest handicap at 0.1

Barfield said he’s feeling much better after long flight from Oklahoma to catch his tee time on Sunday.

“The tournament has already started when I left Oklahoma,” said Barfield who arrived in the country midnight and reached Baguio two hours before tee time.

The travel-weary American shot 21 points in the first round and improved to 28 on Monday.

The six-man squad was down to five even before the tournament started after its team captain Craig Penman pulled his right hamstring.

The 65-year-old Penman, who is married to a Filipina, used to manage John Hay when it was an American military facility and had maintained a team in the last 26 years.

Penman said they wanted to continue the legacy of the tournament.

“This tournament was conceived to promote friendship and camaraderie among American and Filipino military men initially,” he recalled.
Penman said Mamala Bay has won every division in the Fil-Am except for the championship brackets.
This year marks the first time Mamala Bay is playing in the premier decision after fielding a team with an average handicap of 1.533, ranked second on paper behind Luisita.

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