The 71st annual Fil-Am Invitational Golf Tournament has finally kicked off after a two-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic that barred the conduct of amateur tournaments worldwide.
In compliance with the protocols set by the national Inter-Agency Task Force and host city government of Baguio, the number of teams has been scaled down to 56 while the players were cut to 300 from the usual 1,200.
The Luisita Golf and Country Club and Manila Southwoods are currently squaring off in the battle for the premier Fil-Championship flight being the only two teams in the said category.
The premier Am Championship is also a battle among five teams namely Time Cargo Logistics, X1R Mizuno, Forest Hills, Batangas Barakos, and Summit Point Golf and Country Club.
Local team Camp John Hay is currently battling with five other teams in the Fil-A regular while Baguio Country Club and Baguio Blue Bloods Eagles are fighting for the title in the Am-A.
There will be no showdown in the Fil championship in the seniors division while Manila Southwoods will defend its title against four other contenders, including CJH and BCC clubs.
The other nine teams in the seniors division are vying for the titles in the A, B, and C divisions of Fil and Am categories.
The national IATF has given the green light for the tournament in close coordination with the city government of Baguio, National Golf Association of the Philippines, and concerned agencies.
On the first day, Baguio Mayor Benjamin Magalong who is part of the Baguio City Golf Team seniors fired 17 points while Councilor Mike Lawana of Baguio City Golf Team 1 was the highest scorer in the regular AM-C with 21 points.
Ryan Monsalve of Manila Southwoods stole the thunder on the first day when he aced hole 13 of CJH en route for an even par 69.
As a benchmarking tournament, all players, caddies, including those serving in the executive committee and secretariat are fully vaccinated while all stakeholders were subjected to three antigen testing during the weeklong event.
This year’s tournament lacks the foreign contingents even those of Filipino descent including locals. Aside from the host clubs, other sponsors are Boysen Paints, Pangasinan Solid North, Puma, Srixon, Mizuno, The Manor at John Hay, Forest Lodge, and Le Chef.
Results of the four-day tournament are being collated as of press time. – Harley F. Palangchao