THE sweet victory savored by Canlubang in the 63rd Philippine Airlines (PAL) Interclub Golf Tournament underscored anew Davao City's label as the Philippines' spawning ground of excellent golfers, with Ruperto Zaragosa III emerging as the latest discovery is this part of the country.
And he is only 12, a pint-sized kid wonder who was practically raised at the golf course and whose skills on the fairways can match even the best amateur players in the country today.
Dodong, as Ruperto is fondly called, made history of sorts when he debuted for Canlubang in the 63rd PAL Interclub edition in Bacolod City recently and made heads turned with his fine shotmaking even at a young age.
A Grade 6 pupil at the Morning Star Montesorri of Calamba, Laguna, Dodong fired 35 points in the third round at the very tough Binitin course to help Canlubang erased a two-point deficit and seized an 11-point lead over their arch-rival The Country Club going into the final round.
The lead proved to be too tough to overcome as TCC failed to mount a serious challenge a day later, allowing the Sugar Barons to capture their fifth straight crown and 17th overall.
"He is really a fighter. One special trait of my son is that he does not give up. He has heart," Evelyn Zaragosa, Dodong's mother, told Sun.Star Davao in Tagalog after the final round--when her son and the rest of the Canlubang players and team officials were busy celebrating at the practice green near the 18th hole on a sunny Saturday afternoon.
Dodong, barely five feet tall, was a replacement for ageless Tommy Manotoc and actually played poorly the moment he hit the fairways in Bacolod, managing only 25 points, or 11-over-par, in the second round which ended with TCC enjoying a two-point advantage.
But, as her mother declared, Dodong refused to be bothered by his initial mishap and instead rebounded with that 35 or one-over-par 71 the following day that best showed his character.
"That's what he really is. He won't give up easily, even in life," said Evelyn, who is two-month pregnant on her second child.
Dodong's father, Boyet Zaragosa, was a member of the Canlubang team in the PAL Interclub from 2001 to 2007. He also formed part of the past winning Canlubang squads in the annual tournament.
In fact, Canlubang is using talents from Davao in its campaign every year. From the Bayrons to the Labajos and to Jhonel Ababa, and this time Dodong.
Dodong was born attached to golf. Evelyn is a former umbrella girl, while Boyet used to be a caddie at the Apo Golf and Country Club, and later on became a top amateur player in the country.
Both parents were around when Dodong was hoisted by his ecstatic Canlubang teammates and team officials led by Manotoc and Luigi Yulo during the celebration at the Marapara couse last Saturday.
And with Yulo announcing that he will keep the boy in the team, expect more from Ruperto "Dodong" Zaragosa III in future PAL Interclub actions.
Indeed, a new golf star from Davao is born.