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No safe lead in next battleground

Baguio City — Manila Southwoods is up by five points over rival Luisita in the premier Fil-Championship division going into the homestretch of the 72nd Fil-Am Men’s Invitational golf team tournament in Baguio City.

The lead is negligible in team play, especially when the last two rounds will be held at the Baguio Country Club, the up-and-down short course that demands precision as much as mental toughness.

“No lead is safe at BCC,” said Benjie Sumulong, Luisita’s top scorer at Camp John Hay Golf Club.

One can always look back four years ago when Luisita lost a nine-point overnight lead to Megafiber in the final day.

Sumulong, as well as Rodel Mangulabnan and Chino Raymundo, was part of that team.

“The key at BCC is patience because you will make a lot of mistakes here,” Sumulong said.

“There’s no course like BCC. Sometimes your best shots get penalized. Even a 30-yard approach is difficult because you can’t make up your mind on whether to lob it or just bump and run it.”

The BCC features narrow fairways, uneven terrain and elevated greens.

“Luck plays a big factor because you will never know where the ball will bounce,” said Marty Ilagan, a new addition to the senior ranks.

Ilagan contributed 61 points for Luisita in the first two rounds at John Hay.

“Junjun Plana plays well at BCC,” said Ilagan, referring to Southwoods’ top gun.

On Monday, Plana hit 16 of 18 greens at John Hay to score 38 points.

But Plana said the BCC will be a new ballgame.

“Bogeys are unavoidable. Anywhere between 30 and above would be a good score,” he said. “I know every nook and cranny at BCC, know where to hit it. It’s just a matter of execution, and a lot of luck, of course,” he said.

Unlike most participants, Plana does not play practice rounds in every tournament he takes part.

“The courses are the same anyway. I prefer to save energy,” said Plana, adding he would spend the rest day working and getting a massage in the afternoon.

Meanwhile, Luisita will have to make a key decision on who to sit out in the third round.

“The team has not made a decision yet. We will talk among ourselves and wait for our captain, Jeric Hechanova,” Sumulong said.

Two rounds into the tournament, Southwoods has 248 points, Luisita 243, Mamala Bay 224, Riviera Golf 222, Leeward Fil-Am of Hawaii 196.

Chris Howard of Mamala Bay shot 40 points in his second trip at CJH to lead the Group 1 individual division with 69 points, one stroke ahead of Plana and Sumulong.
Rounding out the top five were Raul Minoza of Southwoods with 66 and Ilagan with 61.

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