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Baguio braces for 70th Fil-Am golf tourney

BAGUIO CITY – Baguio is once again bracing for the arrival of hundreds of golfers from the Asia-Pacific rim who will troop here for the world’s oldest and biggest amateur golf tournament.

The Fil-Am Invitational Golf Tournament is expected to have 1,340 players or about 264 teams in the 18-day golfing event that starts on December 1 and ends on the18th at the Camp John Hay and Baguio Country Club golf courses.

Roanne Galicia of the technical committee on Wednesday said there will be 157 teams in the regular divisions of 833 players, alternates not included have so far enlisted.

On the other hand, the seniors division will have 96 teams or 507 players and “still counting” for both, she added.

“It is only until the captain’s meeting that we will be able to finalize the number, but 1,400 is not far,” Fil-Am co-chair Tim Allen of John Hay golf club said.

At least 80 teams are on the reserve list hoping that they can take part in the golfing event founded by the late senator and actor Rogelio dela Rosa and then Camp John Hay commander Maj. Archie Black in 1949.

Since it is the 70th, Fil-Am spokesperson Andrew Pinero said it will have something “spectacular” that will make the tournament as something to be remembered.

The Fil-Am officially starts on December 1 with the captain’s meeting after the start of the three practice rounds.

Tournament proper to begin on the 4th and to be played until the 9th.

This will be for the super senior (70 years and above), senior (55 years up) and the lower flights of the regular division.

On December 10, it will be the start of the three-day practice rounds of the regular divisions. Games begin the next day and will be played until the 18th.

Former Baguio mayor Mauricio Domogan is the defending over-all super senior individual champion and his Camp John Hay team is poised to defend its crown, the first for the super seniors which were started last year for players 70 years old and above.

The super seniors division was first played last year in preparation for this year’s 70th and it will be institutionalized after that, said co-chair Anthony de Leon of Baguio Country Club.

Despite qualifying for the super seniors, 70-year-old Fred Puckett, the anchor of CJH’s senior team that has won three consecutive crowns, is expected to remain with the senior’s team of the co-host.

Manila Southwoods is defending both the premiere Fil and Am Championships of the regular division.

Also last year, the Fil-Am organizing committee decided to have a late start of the tournament so that players coming from the United States can celebrate Thanksgiving Day, one of the country’s most celebrated days, prior to flying here.

This year’s Thanksgiving Day will be next Thursday, November 28.

“This is why we will be having the Fil-Am on December 1,” Pinero said.

This year, the Fil-Am will coincide with the hosting of the Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) which will start on November 30.

As to the weather which has been the Fil-Am’s biggest threat, it is so far so good.

“The weather is good this year unlike last year,” de Leon said.

Last year has been bad for the Fil-Am when rains damaged portions of the two courses, particularly during the onslaught of typhoon Ompong in September.

Only once did the organizers canceled a game, during the 2008 edition when some of the seniors' games were reduced to three days because one playing day was removed due to heavy rains. (PNA)

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