The men of the tour take a break from individual competition as they flaunt their skills in team play for the fourth straight year in The Duel – North vs South 4 which fires off Tuesday at Wack Wack Golf and Country’s Club’s East Course in Mandaluyong.
The Southerners played like one solid unit last year to fashion out a runaway 20-8 victory at the Cebu Country Club and regain the crown they won in the event’s inaugurals in 2012 but lost the following year.
The top 24 players in the current ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour money rankings are slugging it out in the three-day tournament with foursomes (alternate shot) matches kicking off The Duel sponsored by ICTSI. Play shifts to four-ball (best ball) Wednesday with the deciding singles (12 matches) set on Thursday.
Reigning PGT OOM winner Tony Lascuña and three-time ADT champion Elmer Salvador head Team South composed of the best golfers in the Visayas and Mindanao, including Charles Hong, Cassius Casas, Jay Bayron, Rufino Bayron, Marvin Dumandan, Arnold Villacencio, Orlan Sumcad, Clyde Mondilla, Ferdie Aunzo and Jhonnel Ababa, who proved to be the lynchpin for the squad’s romp last year.
“Our chance to score a repeat is very strong,” said Jerome Delariarte, the man at the helm of Team South with Zanieboy Gialon as assistant. “We have to keep the tee shots in play and stay patient on this tricky layout.”
But Team North, under coach Artemio Murakami with Solomon Gines as assistant, is out to even things up on a squad built around Angelo Que and Miguel Tabuena, both winners of two legs in this year’s circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. Backing up the duo are Mars Pucay, Joenard Rates, Benjie Magada, Randy Garalde, Mike Bibat, Keanu Jahns, James Ryan Lam, Miguel Ochoa, Gerald Rosales and Jun Bernis.
“I think it will boil down to putting since talent-wise, both teams are almost even. They’ve been playing for so long that these players already know each other’s strength and skills,” said Murakami. “But of course, both teams will go for a good start.”
Murakami pits Que and Lam against Lascuña and Sumcad with Tabuena teaming up with Magada against Mondilla and Hong and Garalde and Rates colliding with the Bayron brothers in Tuesday’s alternate shot format of the event backed by Nike Golf, Srixon, Callaway, Empire Golf, Footjoy, Titleist, Custom Clubmakers and Sharp.
Pucay and Jahns will also test Casas and Aunzo’s mettle in the fourth group while Rosales and Bernis tangle with Dumandan and Ababa before Bibat and Ochoa mix it up with Salvador and Villacencio in the final pairing.
Team South ruled the event’s inaugurals via a 16-12 decision but the North squad fought back with a thrilling 14 1/2-13 1/2 win the following year in a duel marred by South spearhead Juvic Pagunsan’s sudden withdrawal.