Manila Southwoods and Cebu Country Club, two teams expected to slug it out for the top plum, have finalized their lineups for the 74th Philippine Airlines Men’s Interclub golf team championships in Cebu City.
Southwoods, which has won the last four stagings of the tournament, is fielding a formidable team led by national players Kristoffer Arevalo, Gab Manotoc, Shinichi Suzuki and Coby Rolida.
Veteran Junjun Plana, a fixture in the Interclub since the late eighties, will provide experience and leadership.
Completing the squad are Lanz Uy, Ryan Monsalve, Josh Jorge, Santino Laurel and Masaichi Otake.
All except Laurel and Plana played for Southwoods in the 73rd Fil-Am Invitational in Baguio City. Plana saw action for Time Cargo Logistics.
Thirdy Escano, the long-time non-playing Southwoods captain, is approaching the coming tournament with guarded optimism.
“I know almost all of them. CCC is a strong team and it will be playing in its home course. It’s gonna be tough but we are preparing hard for the tournament,” said Escano, adding that his players are practicing daily at the range and the course.
CCC, which won the Interclub thrice the last in 2019, had just completed its qualifying selection that started in November.
Only three members of the 2019 champion squad made it, namely:
Eric Deen, JJ Alvarez and Bayani Garcia, the playing captain.
The other CCC members are Mark Dy, Carl Almario, Inting Osmena, On Kyu Ok, Jufil Sato, and captain’s picks Jacob Cajita and Tyler Po. Named alternates were Marko Sarmiento and Harvey Sytiongsa.
“We have a good solid team. A good mix of youth and experience,” Garcia said. “Everyone is very excited about the tournament.”
He said a lot of preparation has gone into forming the team.
“We hope to contend come tournament time,” Garcia added.
The regular tournament will be played at the CCC and Club Filipino de Cebu from 2 to 5 March.
Preceding the regular event is the seniors’ tournament slated from 22 to 25 February.
The annual two-week event draws teams from here and abroad. It was shelved for two weeks due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In 2020, Manila Southwoods rode on the heroics of Japanese Yuto Katsuragawa and Aguri Iwasaki to hold off the challenge of Luisita Golf Club and collect its seventh Interclub crown.