THE men of the Philippine Golf Tour wrap up the milestone 10th season of the country’s premier circuit by clashing in team play where the best from Luzon slugs it out with the top guns from the Visayas and Mindanao in The Duel-North vs. South on Nov. 13-15 at Sta. Elena Golf Club.
The North team scored a wire-to-wire triumph in the last edition of the event at Camp John Hay in 2017, cutting the South squad’s lead to 2-3 in the series that kicked off in 2012 at Alabang featuring the top 24 players in the PGT Order of Merit ranking at the close of each season.
Heading to next week’s battle in the country’s version of the Ryder Cup put up by ICTSI, the Northerners hope to come up with another strong start in the four-ball (better ball) and foursomes (alternate shot) and sustain their pace in the deciding singles in an attempt to level things up in the series also held to further foster camaraderie among the country’s leading players and showcase their skills in team competition.
Last year’s PGT Merit winner Jobim Carlos banners Team North handled by coach Cookie La’O with Miko Alejandro as assistant and former PGT Asia leg winners Justin Quiban, James Ryan Lam and Joenard Rates backstopping the squad.
Other members are former Philippine Open titlist Gerald Rosales, Mars Pucay, Jun Bernis, Fidel Concepcion, Eric Gallardo, Michael Bibat, Keanu Jahns and Ira Alido.
Team South coach Charles Hong and assistant Rufino Bayron remain confident of getting back at their counterparts with a veteran crew led by reigning Philippine Open champion Clyde Mondilla, former four-time Merit winner Tony Lascuña, Jhonnel Ababa, the winningest player on PGT Asia with four victories, former Masters titlist Jerson Balasabas and multi-titled Jay Bayron.
Completing the South cast are Elmer Salvador, Albin Engino, Pueblo de Oro leg champion Reymon Jaraula, Zanieboy Gialon, Arnold Villacencio, Nilo Salahog and former PGT Asia leg winner Rene Menor.
Team South ruled the event’s inaugurals with a 16-12 decision but the North squad fought back with a thrilling 14 1/2-13 1/2 win the following year before the former routed the latter with a 20-8 romp in Duel III in Cebu. Outplayed in team play, the Southerners dominated the singles to snatch a 12 1/2-11 1/2 victory and keep the crown in 2015 at Wack Wack before the organizing Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. made the series a biennial affair.
The opening foursomes, featuring six matches, will be played on Nov. 13 with the four-ball, also a six-match event, set on Nov. 14 with the deciding singles, featuring 12 matches, to be held on Nov. 15.