Golf Tour

Luisita rallies to reclaim Seniors title over Cangolf

Photos by Alan Tangcawan taken from Philippine Airlines Interclub / Members of Luisita flash the No. 1 sign.

With a final-day team that delivered as envisioned, Luisita on Saturday completed a come-from-behind victory in the Philippine Airlines Seniors Interclub after winning out in a tense battle in the closing holes at well-manicured Alta Vista to dethrone Canlubang.

 Ex-pro Dan Cruz birdied his last three holes to rescue a level-par 72 worth 54 points, and Chino Raymundo added 51 as the duo made up the bulk of the Luisitans’ closing 151, good enough for a seven-point win over the Sugar Barons in the event regarded as the unofficial team championship of the country.

 It all boiled down to Luisita-Canlubang in the end as Cebu Country Club, bidding to win the overall title playing in the Founders Division, sputtered with a 141, losing its two-point overnight lead early and never able to recover.

The Cebuanos, though, ran away with the title in their division, their 564 total good for a 24-point win over The Orchard.

“Our closing team just clicked,” Jeric Hechanova, the non-playing skipper who put this Luisita team together, said before the celebration started. “It was a tense day against Canlubang, as always, but the players delivered when they needed to.”

Steve McDonald’s 46 was the last card that counted for Luisita, which threw away the 42 of Rodel Mangulabnan, even as Cangolf was led by the 53 of Damasus Wong and the 50 of Mari Hechanova, who dropped shots in each of his last three holes.

 Manila Southwoods got 54 points from Jun Jun Plana, 49 from Theody Pascual, and 46 from Joseph Tambunting to finish a point behind Canlubang, who won this event the last time it was held in 2020 when Bacolod played host and before the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered the event for two years.

 Hechanova said that the team will be kept intact, basically, save for the expected departure of one of its mainstays next year.

 “We will try to keep the whole team as much as possible,” Hechanova, who recruited Tarlac native Marty Ilagan, said. Ilagan counted 47 points in the first round also at Alta Vista.

The event takes a two-day break before Regular Men’s action, where Southwoods is the heavy favorite, begins. Cebu Country Club and Club Filipino in Danao will host the 72-hole championship. 

The annual event, with the theme of “Back to Ignite,” considered the country’s unofficial national team championship, was shelved for two years due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the 74th staging of the event is supported by platinum sponsors ABS-CBN Global, Asian Journal, Airbus, and NUSTAR Resort and Casino.

Gold sponsors include Radio Mindanao Network, Mastercard, MemoRieS FM 89.9 Cebu, University of Mindanao Broadcasting Network, PLDT/Smart, and Konsulta MD.

Joining the event as silver sponsors are Philippine National Bank (PNB), Biocostech, and VISA. Minor sponsors are Bollore Logistics, Manila Standard, Tanduay Brands International, and Asia Brewery while donors are the Department of Tourism, Ogawa, Newport World Resorts, Rolls-Royce, and Boeing.

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