66th Fil-Am golf fires off Nov. 18

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BAGUIO CITY November 13 – Hosts  Baguio Country Club and Camp John Hay golf courses are set to host more than 1,200 players for the 66th Fil-Am Golf Invitational Tournament on Wednesday, Nov. 18.

Pugo Adventure returns to defend the senior’s Fil Championship title in the absence of its heart and soul, Eugene Martin. Martin said he will concentrate on running his resort in Pugo, La Union some 30 kilometers from this city and where his team will try to stop any challenger for the 55-years old and up event of the golfing tournament.

“I’m really quite busy here,” said the burly former two star police general who is expected to get enough fire power from Fred Puckett , Goodie Ignacio physician Ed Montenegro, as well as newbies Rommel Gomez and Puckett’s younger brother Douglas.

Pugad had a roller coaster ride to the title against 2013 winner Megafiber which started with a six stroke lead at the longer CJH course, then tied by the former halfway. Megafiber, however, took a four point lead in the penultimate round at the BCC course, before being overtaken by Pugad in the last day and two shot victory.

Puckett likewise pocketed his eighth individual as he guns for his ninth in the 11th staging of the seniors Fil-Am. “I lost only twice in the Fil-Championship of the seniors side,” said the 67-year old Puckett, a teaching pro at CJH, of the seniors side which started in 2014, during the 55th staging of what could be the biggest amateur golf tournament in the world.

The Fil-Championship flight will be held at the BCC course on the Nov. 22 and 23, the second and third day of the tournament proper, and resumes at the CJH course on the 25th and 26th, said Roanne Galicia, BCC recreations manager.

Hopeful too is CJH which had a three-year run from 2010-2012 under Puckett but was deposed by Megafiber in 2013 and only landed fifth last year.

Baguio mayor Mauricio Domogan will lead the squad composed of players from the championship team in 2010-2012 like Bong Mandapat, Rudy Lockey and retired police general Clyde Cabreros. Korean national Jeong Sek Jun will be the fifth man in the five to play four to count tournament which uses the Modified PAL Stableford format.

Competitions for the regular Championship as well as A to E flights will be on Nov. 30 until Dec. 5, where Manila Southwoods guns for its seventh title after crushing all opponents last year and a 35 point victory over the Rupert Zaragoza-led Ventureslink-AAV Builders-Robros.

“We are excited and sure that we will have another successful Fil-Am,” said BCC General Manager and Fil-Am golf chair Anthony de Leon earlier this week even as he said that sprucing up of the two courses are under way.

De Leon said that they are expected to accommodate more than 1,200 golfers from other parts of the country, Korea, Japan, Australia and the United States.

“It’s all systems go and our courses are ready, as well as our personnel, the players and the sponsors after the long preparations we had to ensure another successful Fil-Am,” added de Leon who will be joined by CJH executives as well as Baguio and Benguet officials during the ceremonial tee on Nov. 17.

CJH on the other hand hopes to complete refurbishing its holes including its signature 9th, where sands are being supposed to be placed for its divots but has been delayed because in the delays in the issuance of permit from lessor Bases Conversion Development Authority.

CJH golf is a third party locator at the former American rest and recreation hub and was dragged in the legal battle between  lessee CJH Development Corporation and lessor the BCDA through its subsidiary the John Hay Management Corporation.

CJH golf was also supposed to install protective barriers at the 7th hole where the fairway wedges a road leading to the BCC, but has not been acted upon by JHMC.

Despite that, CJHDevCo chief operations officer is confident that this year’s Fil-Am is another success, which is held simultaneously with the US$1 million Resort World Masters at CJH’s sister course, the Manila Southwoods.

The four day event on Nov. 19-22 that offers US$180,000 to the winner will be held at the Southwoods’ Masters course, one of the two courses there designed by golf legend Jack Nicklaus, the other is the Legends, said Yniguez. The 14-handicapper will see action in the regular Fil-B competition during the second week of competitions. John Hay was redesigned by Nicklaus’s Golden Bear company in 1997 after hosting the Philippine Open.

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