Sunday, February 26, 2012

Fair Play: It's more fun in the PAL Interclub

DAVAO CITY—Of all the tournaments I cover, the PAL interclub is my second-most favorite event, next of course, to home games of the
Philippine national football team.

I don’t play golf, of course, and can’t distinguish a driver from a wedge even if my life depended on it, but that doesn’t stop me from appreciating the game.

One of things I learned lately is why visiting teams do poorly and home teams do well in the tournament, and it’s not about the familiarity with the courses.

Home clubs generally perform better at home because, they are, well, at home, safely with their wives and with no, shall we say, “distractions.”

Visiting teams, on the other hand, have all the time in the world to be little boys again.  Just the other day, in the final round of the men’s regular tournament, I was in the smoking area next to a guy who was calling his wife, and let just say he made another call and listening to both conversations was interesting.  (Before I get anyone in trouble, he was not from Cebu.)

That’s not to say, of course, that it holds true for everyone else and there’s the Cebu Country Club as proof.  This team has ruled the Founder’s Division for years, winning nine of 11 titles, away from home before getting promoted to the championship division last year.

In Cagayan in 2011, they finished second, and now? They return home as
champions of the country’s biggest golf tournament after a blistering run that saw them win by eight points over Del Monte.

And they did it, while everyone else was discounting them.  Even the Manila media, when they took the lead by 10 points in the second day, all assumed they were going to fall flat in the third day.

“Ten points? Wala yan, dalawa o tatlong players lang yan,” the guys were talking in the media center the other day.

When CCC kept the lead, their banters were reduced to a whisper.

When CCC was poised to win the title, well, let’s just say, they weren’t too pleased to be proven wrong, and I think by next year, they will learn not to discount the folks from Cebu again.

But Jonathan Gesmundo was pretty happy that Cebu won.

“Yes! May bago na naming headline!” he said.

You see, the PAL Interclub men’s tournament has been dominated by a
few clubs only and CCC’s win will teach the other clubs, those who have given up, that they can win this thing with their jungolfers and club members.

Aside from stuffs like that, covering the PAL interclub is a pleasure because of the people you meet. Aside from the other sports editors like Jon Develos, Charles Maxey, and the missing Leo Palou, there’s PAL’s Charlie Erojo, who could belt out a mean Rod Stewart song on request.

I’ve also depended on Charlie for the scores and he’s faster than a fax machine.  There’s also the “ates” of the media, Eya, Tini and Pinky, and they really go the extra mile to make your coverage easier.

I even joined the media division once, but I’m now smart enough to know that joining a tournament without preparation is an ill-advised move.

Next year though, is a different story. With the tournament headed here, I might just sign up for the media division anew and since it would be here, media guys who are better at hitting that tiny ball
like John Pages can also join the tourney.

Next year, too, I will finally get a chance to do what I’ve wanted to do since the PAL Interclub last came to Cebu in 2001—serve Al Mendoza a hot warm cup of coffee.

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