Saturday, February 02, 2013

Fair Play: PAL Interclub returns to Cebu


IN terms of sports tourism, the PAL Interclub golf tournament is considered one of the biggest things. Sure, it doesn’t have as many participants as the Palarong Pambansa, but the PAL Interclub tournament is manna for the tourism players, that’s why Davao, Bacolod and Cagayan--which have alternated in hosting the event--always look forward to the games.


Just consider the numbers--some 3,000 players spending at least P20,000 over two weeks? And that’s not including the team expenses for vans, hotels, pasalubong and what-have-you. And these are guys who have the capability to return to Cebu for another vacation if they want to.

It’s been 12 years since Cebu hosted the tournament, and it’s about time the event returned to Cebu. The last one was memorable for me as I was still a wide-eyed engineering student doubling as a sports correspondent. It was also that time when I first met Al Mendoza, my favorite sports columnist. And I’ve since ribbed him about our first exchange when he spotted me at the media center that time and he told me, “Dong, coffee black.”

This time, I think, I’ll have him serve me one.

Back in 2010, when the PAL Interclub hit Bacolod, I joined the media division for the first and only time, a disastrous stint that had me alternately swearing off golf forever and wondering what if. A 67 in just nine holes will make you do that.

In just over two weeks, the PAL Interclub will return to Cebu, and this time, it’s got an interesting story arch as the Cebu Country Club will be defending the championshionship division title, at home.

In the weeks leading to the 2012 tournament in Davao City, I think nobody expected CCC to pull that off. And when they took the lead, it seems everybody in the media center expected them to fumble and surrender the lead.

Manila reporters are loud, I mean they are really, really loud, and it’s not that you overhear their interviews, you catch their broadcast interviews--”Wala yan, kaya pa yan, four, five holes lang yan, tapos!” spliced with the usual “p_____ ina.”

They were pretty much subdued when in the final round, it was clear CCC was winning.

This time around, CCC won’t be a surprise package and as the host, they have the advantage. Unlike in basketball, football or other events, homecourt edge is really a key factor and it won’t be just having friends cheer for you but being familiar with the nuances of the course.

Can CCC pull off a back-to-back?

We shall see.

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