Humbled the last time out, Team South seeks not just redemption but domination of a side that is likewise keen on bucking the odds and proving its worth again in The Duel –North vs South which gets going Wednesday at the Sta. Elena Golf Club in Laguna.
That should guarantee a spirited battle right in the first pairing of the opening foursomes where the Southerners vow to reassert their might and impose their will early for the momentum needed in such kind of a duel that puts premium both on team play and on individual skills.
Blessed with a roster bannered by some of the country’s top guns, South coach Charles Hong believes they have the edge not just in cohesion but also in personnel which he hopes to use to the hilt to fuel another successful title drive in the country’s version of the Ryder Cup put up by ICTSI.
“Our thoughts are to build on the chemistry our group has,” he said. “We have new players but the core is intact and a lot of our guys just came from wins on the tour which should build our confidence.”
Truly, South boasts of three players who won four of the nine titles disputed in this year’s Philippine Golf Tour, led by multi-titled Tony Lascuña, who closed out the milestone 10th season of the circuit with back-to-back victories at Apo and South Pacific.
Reymon Jaraula also scored a breakthrough at Pueblo de Oro while Jhonnel Ababa dominated the field at Del Monte.
Put in reigning Philippine Open champion Clyde Mondilla and veterans Jay Bayron, Elmer Salvador, former Masters titlist Jerson Balasabas, Albin Engino, Zanieboy Gialon, Arnold Villacencio, Nilo Salahog and Rene Menor, a former PGT Asia leg winner, North coach Cookie La’O indeed has a lot of work to do as far as pitting his talents against their powerhouse rivals is concerned.
But with the right combinations and motivation plus poise, the North side proved it can be done, stunning their rivals with strong starts in the foursomes and four-ball then holding sway in the singles to pound out a three-point win at John Hay last year.
That enabled North to close in on South in the biennial event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. at 2-3 but the latter is itching to get back at the former and re-stamp its class with its stellar cast.
But La’O also expressed confidence with his mix of talents, spearheaded by last year’s PGT OOM winner Jobim Carlos, former PGT Asia leg winners Justin Quiban, James Ryan Lam and Joenard Rates, former Phl Open champion Gerald Rosales, rising stars Ira Alido and Keanu Jahns and veterans Michael Bibat, Mars Pucay, Jun Bernis, Fidel Concepcion and Eric Gallardo.