Southwoods clings to six-shot lead
BACOLOD—Getting a boost in the closing holes from two foreign aces, Manila Southwoods clung to the Championship division lead on a wet Friday, and it could prove to be the valedictory performance for the Carmona-based squad with weather threatening to call off final round play of the 73rd PAL Interclub.
Jung Hyun-jae and Japanese Masaichi Otake had a combined five birdies in their last five holes, accounting for four-over-par 74s worth 32 points each to power Southwoods to a third day 125 and 362 overall, just six points ahead of a charging Luisita side at Binitin in Murcia town.
Elee Bisera fired the tournament’s best round so far, a 39, boosting Luisita to 135 points to come breathing down Southwoods’ neck and make the final round exciting—if it could be played at all.
Ronel Tagaan accounted for 37 points—the first time this year that two players on one team cracked par—Josef Bucay added 30 and young Dylan Castillo chipped in with 29 for the Luisitans, who are 20 points clear of Del Monte.
“I’m satisfied with the way the players bounced back today,” Southwoods’ nonplaying skipper Thirdy Escano said, referring to a paltry 115-point effort in the second round on Thursday.
“And they did it despite the demanding conditions. It was not easy being out there [on the course, playing] with rain practically for the entire round.”
Heavy rains battered a huge part of this bustling city, including the Marapara area where the final 18 holes are scheduled on Saturday, as action in the centerpiece division could be called off at the tree-lined layout like what happened in the third round of the Founders and Friendship brackets.
Southwoods will come out with a talent-laden roster on the final day—weather permitting—as Escano saved his best for last with Aguri Iwasaki and Yuto Katsuragawa anchoring the team.
Luisita, meanwhile, already played Bisera, Tagaan and Bucay twice, leaving Luigi Guerrero, who scored 33 in the opening round, to lead the team.
“I have full confidence in my players,” he said after getting 31 points Sean Ramos and either 30 of Vince Lauron or Kristoffer Arevalo counting. “If the final round won’t be played, it would be OK. At least I won’t be a nervous wreck for [Saturday].”
The downpour started early in the morning and forced tournament organizers to recall players from the Founders and Friendship divisions back to the clubhouse with the course rendered unplayable.
Action in those brackets will close out at Binitin on Saturday, and, unfortunately for the teams in the Founders, they won’t be eligible to win the overall crown, which was up for grabs after the second round on Thursday.
Forest Hills will come into the final day protecting a four-point lead over Tagaytay Highlands. Cebu Country Club, which won the overall championship last year coming from the lower bracket, is nine points behind and still with a chance.
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