MANILA, November 16, 2005 
(STAR) SPORT LANG TAYO By Tommy Manotoc - When I think of what it is that has made me partial to the game of golf among all the other sports that I have played throughout my entire life, I have to say that it is the friendship I have made both here and abroad the past 40 plus years.

Aside from seeing old friends two weeks ago during the Asia-Pacific Senior Amateur Championship, my China trip was even made sweeter by the fact that our Philippine team won first place and our very own Iggy Clavecilla captured the individual title.

Going up against the likes of the Australian and New Zealand teams and emerging as the winners was quite an accomplishment, given the fact that these countries have players — Michael Campbell and Greg Norman — competing in the PGA Tour today. In other words, golf over there is considered more than just a way to pass one’s spare time.

However, from looking at the line-up of our team, I knew, even before I boarded the plane out of Manila, that the Philippines had a good chance of clinching the title.

The members were former National Amateur champions and seniors champion Rolly Viray and Francis Gaston, former National Amateur first runner-up finisher Clavecilla, Richie Garcia, Caloy Coscoluella and myself.

What was the basis for this feeling of confidence I had about the team I was going to play with? We never even practiced as a team before leaving for the tournament!

Perhaps it was because I have played with most of them since I was a junior and I knew the quality of training we had as we grew up playing the game.

It was really not very different from what the present men’s team and our top amateur players are doing today. We played together a lot and alone and joined as many tournaments that were made available to us throughout the summer and even school year. We spent time on the range and around the green trying to sharpen the skills we learned from whoever pro we happened to be working with.

This was sufficient. This was enough to reach a level one could call "competitive" even for foreign standards. It was the kind of training that was adequate to carry us through to our senior years and for us to put up a good showing at this year’s Asia-Pacific Senior Amateur Championship.

But it is nowhere even close to being adequate if you are to compete here and abroad in the regular amateur championships being held today.

The discipline and training that are required to be ready to compete at the level the game is at nowadays involves not only the practice schedule of the player while on the course but also his diet and way of life in general. I am not saying that one needs to be a vegetarian to be competitive — although I believe it would help. But one cannot go to bed at odd hours, eat junk food and expect to play well the following day. (Maybe one would get away with this on the first day but as the third and fourth and final days unfold, he will be gasping for breath for sure.)

During my time, it was still possible to do this — stray off your schedule occasionally- and get away with it. Fortunately, this is not the case today.

The regular Philippine men’s team- save for Juvic Pagunsan — is no longer considered a threat to other players when foreign and or local tournaments are held. And this is not because of lack of ability or talent.

At the Putra Cup Championship held in Indonesia last year, the team came in fourth. We lost to Myanmar. At the Nomura Cup held in Japan this year, the Philippines tied Malaysia for fifth place. Thailand placed fourth. The Philippines fared better than this in the past.

However, with the new program that was picked up and handled a few months ago by an avid golf patron, things may start to look different for the RP team when the SEA Games is played. I am hoping that with this new development, and with a patron who is a sportsman and understands the true needs of an athlete, things will begin to shine for our team and its members.

It may even be enough for those that are part of this development to be still competitive, if the desire is still present, up to their senior years. For the camaraderie I felt among golfers from different countries despite the presence of intense competition during that week in China was so invigorating that even an injured back would not prevent me from returning again next year.

* * *

I would sincerely like to thank all who came to the La Salle gathering last Nov. 12. With all the negative text messages and emails that were circulating around and pressure from others to pursue a different agenda, I was pleasantly surprised to see 53 La Sallites including ex-Brother Samuel, ex-Brother Quintos, faculty members, administrators, and five other Hall of Fame awardees and the legendary Lim Eng Beng. It is my hope that the event one way or another had helped shed new and positive light on the whole issue that will allow all of us to honestly learn from this experience and move on.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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