By REY BANCOD
BACOLOD CITY – Defending champion Manila Southwoods rode on the heroics of two new additions Thursday to build a 12-point lead over Luisita at the start of the 71st Philippine Airlines Interclub golf team championships.
Japanese Taisei Shimizu highlighted a round of two-under par 68 with an eagle on the par-4, 12th hole to lead Southwoods with 38 points.
Southwoods also drew 37 from local player Chepe Dulay, 32 from veteran Junjun Plana and 31 from Jama Reyes to amass 140 points at the wind-swept Marapara course.
Japanese Yuto Katsugarawa, Southwood’s top player, did not count after a disappointing 30 points.
“We’re happy that we were able to shoot our target, but definitely, we’ll play much better the second time we play the course in the final round,” said Southwoods non-playing captain Thirdy Escano.
Strong wind conditions forced players to improvise, but Luisita handled them better than Canlubang as it took the role as Southwoods’ chief rival.
Leandro Bagtas, the 13-year-old son of former pro Eddie Bagtas, fired 36 points to lead Luisita which finished with 128 points.
Other Luisita scorers were Rodel Mangulabnan 31, Dan Cruz 31 and Don Petil 30.
Canlubang struggled with 119 points as many-time national champion Rupert Zaragosa limped home with 29 points.
Lester Lagman and Gido Mandanas shot 31 and 30, respectively while Carlo Villaroman returned with 29.
Del Monte was a poor fourth, collecting 110 points from Julius Langamin 30, Gil Velez 28, Mellurence Cabillo 28 and either Gil Velez or Louie Dacudao 24.
The next two rounds will be played at Binitin where Southwoods is expected to field a fresh lineup in the hope of taking a bigger lead going into the weekend.
In the Sportswriters division, Guinhalaran scored 89 points to take a one-point lead over Mactan Island. Tagaytay Highlands was running third with 86 with Melbourne Pinoy (85) and Fil-Am Fairfield (82) taking the next spots.
Bay Area Golf edged ahead of South Cotabato in the Friendship class with 88 points,
South Cotabato was one point behind while San Juanico took third with 80.