Tight duel up as Sambalilo pro-am unwraps

THE Sambalilo Golf Pro-Am tournament gets going Friday with 66 teams primed for a fierce battle right in the first round under the scramble format at the Caliraya Springs Golf Club in Cavinti, Laguna.

Zanieboy Gialon, who has earlier listed Gab Manotoc as his partner, will now be playing with Romeo Lopez, still hopeful to get into the mix early and gain a crack at the championship at the very site where he reigned in a pro tournament recently that snapped a long title spell.

Play shifts to four-ball (best ball) Saturday with the top 10 teams to receive cash prizes, including the top P100,000 for the winning pro and gift prizes for the amateur.

Those finishing from 11th to last will get consolation prizes in the P500,000 event put up by the Municipality of Cavinti and which drew some of the country’s leading pros and top and rising amateurs, including those in the women’s ranks.

But the rest are also coming into the tournament brimming with confidence, including Michael Bibat, who’s pinning his hopes on partner Edwin de Ocampo, along with Tony Lascuña with Kevin Su, Jay Bayron with Russel Salazar, Rufino Bayron with Bobby Iñigo, Jerseon Balasabas with Pherham Saiddi, James Ryan Lam with Jet Mathay, Robert Pactolerin with Vince Cuevas and Jhonnel Ababa with Bong Macalalad.

“I like our chances but we have to stay focused and play to our strengths,” said Bibat, whose confidence is bolstered by a recent victory that likewise ended a string of missed chances. He hopes to give his partner some good looks at birdies.

“We need to focus and give our best on every shot. My partner is a good putter so we have to have chances (for birdies) on every hole,” he added.

Other tandems seen to contend are Ivan Monsalve with Paqo Barro, Eric Gallardo with Gus Pacheco, Joenard Rates with Ariel Azarcon, Anthony Fernando with Nolan Enriquez, Marvin Dumandan with Nolan Laloo, Rupert Zaragosa with Jandal Hataman, Boyet Zaragosa with Precious Zaragosa, Jun Bernis with Carlo Quimson, and Albin Engino and Cavinti Vice Mayor Milbert Oliveros.

Focus will also be no former national player Sean Ramos, whose teamup with Laurea Duque is expected to stir up play given the latter’s impressive run of victories in the Northern California junior tour recently.

Duque is fresh from a win in the 93rd San Francisco junior championship that capped her five-tournament title run in six events on the Junior Golf Association of Northern California tour.