PAL INTERCLUB: Del Monte is key, says Barons’ ace
Musong R. Castillo
First Posted 09:12:07 15/02/2011
Filed Under: Golf, Pal Interclub, Tommy Manotoc, Dave Hernandez, Francis Gaston, Iggy Clavecilla, Richie Garcia
The turning point in this year’s Seniors’ and Men’s Philippine Airlines Interclub battles will be Del Monte, that bending, up-and-down layout in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon, which will demand nothing but precision and smart play from the field in the next two weeks.
Tommy Manotoc, the ageless Canlubang star who will suit up for the Sugar Barons in both events, believes this to be so, especially with the Celestino Tugot-designed, par-72 gem expected to play even longer because of fairways softened by rains the past week.
“It’s a straight hitter’s course,” the 61-year-old Manotoc said, referring to Del Monte, during a break in practice with the rest of the Barons at Pueblo de Oro in Cagayan de Oro, the tournament’s other venue. “I think it will, as in the past Interclubs held here, be the turning point in both events,” he continued. “The trickiness of Del Monte will be the key.” Senior play begins on Thursday with Luisita as the defending champion. And after that, it will not only be Manotoc who will be a senior player seeing action for Canlubang’s Men’s team but Dave Hernandez as well, in the centerpiece event that gets going Wednesday next week. Francis Gaston returns for Luisita, which is also expected to draw fire from Iggy Clavecilla and Philippine Sports Commission chair Richie Garcia. Not that Pueblo will not provide a stiff challenge, but Manotoc believes that long hitters will be rewarded well there, unlike in Del Monte where long, booming drives don’t necessarily mean low scores. “Pueblo de Oro is a long hitter’s course that could be rewarding at times. But practically all of the players (in the field) can hit it long,” Manotoc said. “But you can’t bomb away on all your tee shots at Del Monte.”
Del Monte sets out to spoil a sixth straight romp for the Barons in Men’s play, as it aims to reprise a 2004 feat by exploiting its familiarity of Del Monte and put a buffer over the field when they play the easier Pueblo layout.