THE Cebu Country Club (CCC) showcased more of its firepower as it kept the overall lead after Round 3 in the 72nd PAL Interclub, putting it a step nearer to repeating golf history.
CCC rode perfectly on its momentum as it fired 131, the team’s highest output, on Day 3 at the Mactan Island Golf Club in Lapu-Lapu City, following a 121 the other day for an aggregate score of 376.
The Founders Division campaigner CCC was quite a revelation as they shocked the field by outscoring the teams in the Championship division and taking the overall lead on the second day. CCC proved that what they did was no fluke with another solid performance in Round 3 to keep the lead heading to the fourth and final round.
Knocking at CCC’s door is perennial contender in the Championship Division Manila Southwoods 372 (125-118-131), followed by Luisita Golf & Country Club 364 (118-114-132). CCC enjoys a 23-point lead in the Founders Division over The Orchard Golf & Country Club 353 (121-110-122).
Bayani Garcia, one of the team’s PAL interclub veterans, shone the brightest for CCC in crucial moments as he had a 36-36 card for an even 72 good for 36 points.
Marc Gonzales had an equally impressive game with 35, Jon Joseph Alvarez added 33, while Eric Anthony Deen contributed 27 in the four-to-count team tournament. The team’s Round 2 top performer Martin Mendoza’s 27 points did not count.
“It was a very good game. I had a rough start, but I was able to recover. Patience was the key; you just take what the course gives you. Stay mature and patient about the course,” Garcia told SunStar Cebu in an interview.
CCC shrugged off the pressure of playing at home as all its members put up good scores since the first round.
“In the team today, and not just today, also the previous days, it was a solid performance. We hope to continue tomorrow (Saturday),” said Garcia.
According to the organizers, the first and only time that a Founders Division team won the overall title was way back in the 1988 edition when the Aguinaldo team beat Canlubang, also in Cebu.
The stage is set for CCC to repeat history and it will be on their home turf at the CCC layouts in Cebu City. Garcia admitted that there’s an advantage to play at home but was quick to point out that they’re still not thinking of the championship.
“Believe it or not, what we are thinking now is the championship is only a bonus for us. Our main goal is the Founders Division. But at the end of the day it will boil down to sticking to our game plan and the course strategy,” he said.
Garcia said he and the rest of the team were shocked at the way things were going.
“We were shocked to be leading but we will take it. It is what it is. The stars aligned and a lot of the putts went in. Hope to continue on the final day,” said Garcia, who will be playing in Round 4 with team captain Marko Sarmiento, former pro Mark Dy, Julius Pierre “Pio” Neri and Harvey Sytiongsa.
Sarmiento called their performance in the third round “the team’s best in recent memory.” But they are not resting on their laurels as they have to stay focused for the final round.
“Our target was 120 and we exceeded it by 11! It was probably our best performance in recent memory considering the course that we played. Anything can happen in Mactan but today our boys proved that all the preparation paid off,” said Sarmiento. “We have one more round to play so we can’t get too excited and focus on the results. Pressure will be extremely high tomorrow (Saturday).”
On the other hand, Club Filipino Inc. de Cebu 299 (112-92-95) took the lead in the Aviator Division, just two points ahead of Eagle Ridge 297 (98-105-94). Villamor Air Base is third with 293 (106-83-104).
Fernando Mondares scored 26, Jufil Sato added 25, Nilo Seno had 23 and Dominic Gotiong added 21 for Club Filipino. Mario Evans Tumaliwan’s 20 did not count.
In the Sportswriter Division, the Mactan Island Golf Course 258 (92-80-86) is at second place and two points behind leader Camp John Hay Golf Club 260 (83-89-90). (RSC)