Southwoods resumes title drive at tough BCC

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BAGUIO – Manila Southwoods braces for a tough challenge at the tricky Baguio Country Club but remains confident of its chances with a solid crew backstopped by a veteran campaigner as it resumes its title drive in the Fil-Championship of the 65th San Miguel Fil-Am Invitational golf tournament at Camp John Hay here today (Friday).

Justin Quiban, who led the Carmona-based squad’s fiery charge at Camp John Hay layout in the first two rounds, hopes to sustain his top form along with teammates Tonton Asistio, Yuto Katsuragawa and Chepe Dulay although they face a different kind of challenge at the up-and-down, tight par-61 layout which could bring out the best or the worst from any team.

“The confidence of the team is at its peak. The guys are ready and know what to do at BCC,” said Southwoods team captain Thirdy Escaño on the eve of the pivotal third round where San Miguel Corp. and Royal Northwoods are expected to launch their make-or-break bids.

With Quiban firing 41 and 38 points under the Stableford scoring system, Manila Southwoods pooled a 144 and a 142, its 286 aggregate netting them a 13-point lead over San Miguel heading to the final 36 holes of the event’s premier championship.

With veteran Jun Jun Plana set to suit up in place of Joseph Tambunting in the five-to-play, four-to-count format event and provide experience and poise, Manila Southwoods hopes to pull away from the field and nail its sixth championship.

“The addition of Jun (Plana) would give us edge in experience. But I believe in what everyone can do to regain the coveted crown,” said Escaño.

But San Miguel, which pooled a 273 from a 140 and 133, is raring to bounce back at BCC behind former pro Eddie Bagtas, Lanz Uy, JP de Claro, GJ Katigbak and young Ira Christian Alido together with Royal Northwoods, which also opened with a 140 but groped for form in the second round with a 124 for a 264.

The San Rafael, Bulacan-based squad also hopes to draw the best from Raymart Tolentino, Carlo Miguel Villaroman, Richard Joson, Nicholas Santiano and 13-year-old Philippe Palanca.

Ventureslink-AAV-Builders-Robros also put in a 36-hole total of 140 to tie Northwoods at third with national champion Rupert Zaragosa tipped to lead the team’s bid again along Ricar Cadinato, Raymund Gonzales and Ariel Villacencio.

Focus will also be on the Quiban-Zaragosa duel for the individual championship with the Southwoods mainstays barely ahead by two over the Ventureslink ace, 79-77.

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