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Battle royal expected in Fil and Am Championships of 71st Fil-Am golf

GREENS AND FAIRWAYS. A bird’s eye view, or a drone, of the Camp John Hay golf course with the longest holes in prominence, the par 5 hole 1 on the right and the 16th and 17th holes, at the middle portion. Fil-Am Media Group Photo

Defending champion Manila Southwoods and Luisita are expected to duke it out for the FIL Championship Division crown, a battle in the AM Championship might just be as exciting as four teams with equally top-caliber players are expected to crowd for the title in the 71st Fil-Am Golf Invitational that starts on December 13 until 17.

Forest Hills, the 2019 runner in the FIL Championship, competes in the AM Championship this time and will be bannered by current club champ Inigo Raymundo and veteran Rodel Mangulabnan. Completing the team are Edgar Lee, Dennis Nicomedes, Gus and playing captain Raymond Bunquin.

“We are not expecting to be the favorites but we’ll be there fighting for the crown,” said Bunquin, the General Manager of Forest Hills.

Out to challenge them is Batangas Barakos, second to Southwoods in the AM Championship, is fielding in its usual line up consisting of the Mendoza brothers, Mark and Michael, and Ricky delos Santos.

But the Batangeños could spring a surprise especially now that it has added solid additions in Rudy Amata, Glen Vasques and Godwin Bilandres.

“As usual 50/50 pa rin,” said skipper Michael Mendoza.

X1R-Mizuno, the winner in the Fil-A Division two years ago, is another contender although it has only three original members Gab Macalaguim, Ace Stehmeier and Brixton Aw coming back and lead the squad.

Likewise anticipated into the mix is Time Cargo Logistics, which will be led by Jun Jun Plana, Joseph Tambunting, Ruel Cabral and new recruit Gary Sales.

This year’s Fil-Am, the largest amateur tournament in the world that attracts around 1,200 (pre Covid), is a scaled-down version with only 288 players to ensure the safety of the participants.

Swab tests for players before hitting the fairways, one during the middle of the tournament and before the final round– December 12, 15 and 18—will be mandatory

The Baguio Country Club and Camp John Hay are co-hosting the four-day event in close coordination with the local government unit and the Inter Agency Task Force (IATF).

The Fil-Am week starts this Saturday with practice rounds and captains meeting that will continue until Sunday which will culminate with the opening cocktails at the Baguio Country Club. The awards night will be on December 17 at the Camp John Hay golf club.

Some 30 teams will be seeing action in the regular Fil-Am and 16 squads in the seniors or 55 years old and above.

Baguio mayor Benjamin Magalong will spearhead the Baguio City Golf Team but will only play for 0one day.

“I will be very busy for the next days so I can only play for a day,” said the mayor who is bracing for the arrival of the Omicron variant of the Covid-19 which he expects within two weeks and before Christmas.

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