Sta. Rosa, Laguna—Team North took the best dished out by some of the country’s best from the South and proved they’re better—individually—dominating the singles, 8 1/2-3 1/2, to repeat as The Duel—North vs South champions at Sta. Elena Golf Club here yesterday.
Unfazed by their rivals’ edge in depth, led by three top guns who swept the last four legs of this year’s Philippine Golf Tour, the Northerners relied on their big fighting heart and resolve, taking five of the first seven matches while squaring off in one to all but rule their sixth face-off in the country’s version of the Ryder Cup, 14 1/2-9 1/2.
North’s strong start likewise turned what was expected to be a down-to-the-wire finish into a runaway triumph after South forced a tie at 6 points after fighting back, 4-2, in foursomes Thursday.
“It’s a question of making the right match-ups and they did well,” said North coach Cookie La’O, whose wards also beat Team South by three at John Hay in 2017. “It’s a job well done.”
It was, indeed, as each winning member received P80,000 plus trophies and medals from organizing Pilipinas Golf Tournaments Inc. executive director Narlene Soriano and Sta. Elena’s Rico Tantoco during awards rites. The South members took P40,000 each.
North, which won the opening four-ball, 4-2, Wednesday, thus completed a back-to-back title romp and squared off their series at three wins apiece in the biennial event which served as highlight of the PGT’s 10th season.
South ruled the inaugurals in 2012 in Alabang but North struck back in 2013, also at the Muntinlupa layout, before South won the next two editions in Cebu and Wack Wack.
Ira Alido staked his claim as the best from among a slew of young turks on the ICTSI-sponsored circuit as the 18-year-old former amateur hotshot routed veteran Arnold Villacencio, 5&4, to spark the Northerners’ romp in the deciding one-on-one matches.
After Mars Pucay held Tony Lascuña, who won the Apo and South Pacific legs last month, to an all-square game in the second pairing, former PGT Asia leg winner Justin Quiban wore down Rufino Bayron, 2&1, to give the defending champions a one-point cushion as South’s Albin Engino dominated last year’s PGT Order of Merit winner Jobim Carlos to fashion out a runaway 5&4 triumph in their side of the match-up.
But Keanu Jahns surprised PGT Asia’s winningest player Jhonnel Ababa, who also reigned at PGT Del Monte, 3&2, and James Ryan Lam and Michael Bibat overpowered Elmer Salvador, 4&2, and Nilo Salahog, 5&4, respectively, as South pulled away, 5 1/2-2 1/2 after the first eight matches.
North, however, proved far from being finished as Eric Gallardo upended former PGT Asia leg titlist Rene Menor, 1-up, Jun Bernis upstaged fancied Jay Bayron via the same scoreline and Joenard Rates held on to foil PGT Pueblo leg winner Reymon Jaraula, 1-up.
Zanieboy Gialon and Jerson Balasabas provided the two other wins for South with the former blasting Fidel Concepcion, 6&5, and the latter thwarting Gerald Rosales, 1-up.
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