Monday, March 04, 2013

Fair Play: The Burly and the Best

I got to the Cebu Country Club (CCC) three hours earlier than usual because it was the final round of the PAL Interclub men's tournament and I was still almost late.

At about the same time last year, when I got to the media center, the place was abuzz.  Cebu was in the brink of losing its lead in the final round to Del Monte.  At least that's what I got from the Manila media men.  True enough, there was a nervous buzz, and for a while, Jovi Neri was pacing the course nervously, like a dad waiting for a daughter who was two hours late from a date.

Yesterday, there was none of that. At a little past 12, I saw a crowd just outside the green.  When the player in red made his putt, I saw a burly guy, rushing with his teammates to hoist him.  It was Bayani "The Burly" Garcia, hoisting Mark "The Best" Dy.  Burly, and I think that's going to be his nickname in every PAL Interclub, is the CCC golfer who gets that adjective every time from a guy who's almost twice his size.

And when the word burly was mentioned during the team's triumph?  I heard a girl say to another girl, "Did you know about the burly issue?"

And Mark?  My first out-of-town experience with the PAL Interclub was in 2007, six years after covering the event in Cebu.  Then, I wasn't that knowledgeable that I got to the golf course at 8 a.m., and spent the next six hours wondering what to do.  When I got the scores and saw a 40 next to Mark Dy's name, I thought, "Hey, not bad."

That is the understatement of my whole PAL Interclub experience as I later learned.  Getting 40 points in a PAL tourney is like getting 60 in basketball, or four goals in football.  It doesn't happen often, but when it does, you'd get to say, "I knew he can do it."

And Mark Dy certainly did it.

And of course, a PAL interclub isn't complete without an interview with Jovi.  No, it's not about bias, and I think the rest of the CCC team knows this, when it comes to anything CCC in PAL interclub, Jovi is the guy to ask.

But Jovi had something else to say that day.

"This isn't something new to us," he said, and for an outsider, it would sound arrogant.

And I know where he's coming from, and it's all about burly.  Last year, when they took the lead in the Championship Division, it seemed the Manila media thought it was their first time to take the lead in a PAL tournament.  Playing to win isn’t new to them.

He pointed out they've gotten this same treatment from the local papers for years, their daily exploits—and mis-steps-- given banner treatment.

But that’s not my favorite Jovi quote. The best was when he said that “The real Interclub is in the Founders Division.”  That was back in 2010 or was it 2009. I’m not sure, but what I’m sure is is was the time when the CCC exploits were ignored and those given prominence were exploits of a team that featured a squad former caddies turned pros-in-waiting plucked from a club down south.

That club missed the two PAL Interclub editions and I think that if they field another team of golfers waiting to turn pro? They’d probably beat CCC.

When Jovi said that, CCC was battling clubs like Negros and Southwoods, clubs who fielded full-pledge members in the biggest golf tournament in the country.

And this year’s second placer in the championship division?  Alabang.

And to borrow Jovi’s words, the PAL Interclub is about the inter club, again.

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