Fifteen-time champion Luisita has added three new faces in its bid to unseat Canlubang in the 30th Philippine Airlines Seniors Interclub golf team championships which begin Thursday at the Mimosa Golf and Country Club in Clark, Angeles, Pampanga.
Luisita will miss long-time mainstay Francis Gaston, Seve Roxas-Chua and Rudy Amata, but their spots have been taken by Jingy Tuason, Benjie Sumulong and Chito Laureta.
Returning for the Tarlac-based squad are last year’s individual champion Eddie Bagtas, Richie Garcia, Pepot Iñigo, Minieng Maravilla and Bong Sison.
“I believe we have a solid 8 team that can give Canlubang a good fight,” said Luisita non-playing team captain Jeric Hechanova in a text message.
Last year in Cebu City, Luisita started hot, but faded in the last three days, losing to Canlubang by 17 points.
Tommy Manotoc, who lost to Bagtas in the individual contest via countback, will spearhead Canlubang’s title-retention bid. He will be backstopped by holdovers Dave Hernandez, Rolly Viray, Mari Hechanova, Rene Unson and Tony Olives.
Former national seniors champion Abraham Aveña and Zaldy Villa are the team’s new addition.
Canlubang and Luisita have dominated the seniors’ event since 2000, each winning eight crowns.
In fact, only three other teams have won the event since its inception in 1987 – inaugural champion Club Filipino de Cebu, Villamor and Wack Wack.
A total of 105 teams have signified their intention to join, according to tournament director Henry Arabelo.
Aside from the championship division, trophies will also be disputed in the Founders, Aviator, Sportswriters and Friendship brackets.
Aviator is a newly-created class featuring the lower half of the Founders and upper half of the Sportswriter divisions.
Cebu clubs Alta Vista Golf and Country Club, Cebu Country Club, and Mactan Island Golf Club are fielding teams in the tournament.
Following the seniors event is the 69th PAL Men’s Regular Interclub championships set March 2 also at Mimosa.
The PAL Interclub is sponsored by People Asia, Travelife, Mareco Broadcasting Network (Crossover), Manila Broadcasting Corporation, Airbus, Business Mirror and Philippine National Bank.
Other supporters are Philippine Daily Inquirer, Inquirer.net, Plantation Bay Resort and Spa, Tanduay Distillers, Asia Brewery, Splash Corporation, RFM Corporation, Goldilocks, Eastgate Publishing Corporation, Robinsons Land and Rolls-Royce.