BAGUIO CITY –After being denied last week of a podium finish in the seniors competition, Douglas Puckett found another ally within his family as they led Green Water Golfers to a three shot lead at the start of competitions I Fil B of the Fil-Am Golf Invitational presented by San Miguel at the Baguio Country Club (BCC).
This as defending Fil Championship titlist San Miguel – Northern Cement braces for showdown with eight-time champion Manila Southwoods and a Rupert Zaragosa powered Srixon Forest Hills early Tuesday at the John Hay fairways.
“Even though without Rupert, we will fight,” said San Miguel captain Eddie Bagtas, who led San Miguel – NCC to its second straight title in the Seniors Fil Championship last week.
“We won last year with Rupert with us, but then the boy left for Forest Hills.
” But then, we have to take our chances. It’s anybody’s game,” said the former professional who now hinges his hope on a team which without him has an average age of 19.5 points.
Bagtas will have Jelbert Gamolo, GJ Katigbak, Gabby Manotoc and Meynard Ko to defend San Miguel honors when game starts at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday at the par 69 course.
Out to challenge the defending champion is Southwoods, winner of seven straight from 1996 to 2002 who will be bannered by some of the country’s top young amateur golfers.
Yuto Katsuragawa, Kristoffer Arevalo and Ryan Monsalve return to erase ghost of last year’s last day collapse to lose by four shots to San Miguel and now will get enough muscle from Ira Anido, Aidric Chan and Carl Corpus at the longer John Hay where Bagtas and crew rallied last year to win.
“We have a very young team this year, particularly for the Fil Championship division in line with Manila Southwoods program of showcasing emerging youthful talents to infuse excitement and drama in the 67th edition of this annual event,” said Thirdy Escano of Southwoods.
Though our players may be young, they all possess the skills, discipline and drive to secure the Fil Championship plum for our club,” he said.
Zaragosa now found a home at Forest Hills, his third in the Fil-Am since he started three years ago with then AAV Robros Venturelinks.
Now, he hopes to lift the title anew with Juson Eustaquio, Dan Cruz, Luigi Miguel Guerero and JP de Claro with Forest Hills which want to win anew after its 2013 victory.
Carlo Villaroman hopes also to make a big splash this year with Royal Northwoods which hopes to win in its second year in what could be the biggest and oldest amateur golf tournament in the world.
Northwoods will have Luis Castro, Richard Joson, Carlo Gatmaytan and Richnell Albano to back Villaroman to the quest.
Mizuno Ecoverde, the 2014 champion, returns anew with the King Stehmeier, Rodel Mangalubnan, Justin Limjap, Noel Langamin and former pro Ray Sangil.
Other teams this year in the premiere flight are 2014 near champions Che’lus of Guam and Team Time Cargo Masters under Theody Pascual.
On the other hand, Escano said, the Am team “is a mixture of dependability and experience.
“I can confidentially say both our Fil and Am teams will live up to expectations of taking top honors by weekend,” he said.
Southwoods will have again Junjun Plana leading with Chepe Dulay, former San Miguel’s Lanz Uy, Jose Sajulga, Joo Hyung Kim and Liam Cully.
Also seeing action in said flight are: Alaska Royalink, Batangas Barakos, Forest Hills Palmers, Leeward Fil-Am Golf, Mizuno Ecoverde and Team Sparta of Escano.
But action started in the lower flights of the regular Fil-Am as Green Waters took the early lead with 27 from Douglas, 24 from brother Gary and 20 of nephew John Paul even as Robert Boada added 18 to count.
Last week, Douglas and Pugo Adventure failed to sustain its rally and landed fourth in the Seniors Fil Championship won by San Miguel.
John Quinata led Che’lus with 24, Warren Pelletier had 23, Jess Quenga made 22 and Jeff Blas chipped in 20 to count or the team’s 89 in the five to play four to count event that uses the Modified PAL Stableford format where a par scores two.
Actually Che’lus is tied with Ventureslink Robros Jayworkx with 89 and lead co-host BCC by two.
Meanwhile, Batch 92 opened with a 92 to lead in Am D.
Fil-Am League of Golfers – Chicago carded an 81 for second spot and two off on Team Surigao II. Sam Bautista/PNA-northboundasia.com