■ Harley F. Palangchao
The 73rd Januarius Fil-Am Invitational Golf Tournament finally fired off on weekend at Camp John Hay and Baguio Country Club with close to 130 teams vying for titles in the seniors and lower bracket of the regular division.
The close to 700 players seeing action in the first week had their practice rounds on Nov. 22 to 24 to familiarize themselves on the challenging par-61 BCC and par-69 CJH fairways.
Local teams from Baguio City are expected to defend their titles in the seniors and regular’s Flights F and G, as some of them emerged as champions and runners-up last year.
Players from all over the Asia Pacific region are already in the Summer Capital to be part of the tournament that will last until Dec. 10.
The long-time rivalry between Manila Southwoods and Luisita is expected to be renewed anew as top senior players Jun Plana, Raul Miñoza, Theody Pascual, and Manfred Guangko with Bong Brobio as the fifth member will power the Carmona-based Manila Southwoods.
Luisita, on one hand, will field Benjie Sumulong, Rodel Mangulabnan, Dan Cruz, and Chino Raymundo while Abe Rosal, currently one of the national coaches under the National Golf Association of the Philippines will take the place of Marty Ilagan in the roster.
The Baguio-based Greenwater that has been powered by the Puckett brothers led by the late Fred has also acquired multiple champion Tommy Manotoc to join Douglas Puckett and company in its roster.
Last year, the Vancouver Horizon won the Am G crown while the Maharlika Roast Beef topped the Fil G of the lower brackets of the regular division.
Previous winners City Hall/City of Pines teams along with Razcals will also be possible contenders in the regular division during the first week.
The second week of the tournament will be from Dec. 2 to 10 with Manila Southwoods also vying to defend its championship flights titles.