(STAR) Tommy Manotoc put on a steady round of 72 to dominate the field and capture the individual championship then led the Philippines to an equally-impressive victory in team play in the 2007 Asia-Pacific Senior Amateur Golf Championship yesterday at Mt. Malarayat in Batangas.

Manotoc rode on a solid one-under 35 card at the back to turn what had been a close contest into a runaway victory, finishing with a 54-hole aggregate of 219 for a six-stroke romp over Australia Brian Sams.

New Zealand’s Bill Bell, who tied Manotoc with a fiery 71 in the second round, cracked under pressure as he dropped four strokes in the last three holes, including a double-bogey on No. 17, and limped home with an 80.

That enabled Sams to share runner-up honors with a 225 after 72, alongside compatriot Alex Cleave (75) and Korean Jun Kee Lee (77) in the tournament sponsored by the Philippine Airlines, Pagcor, Dept. of Tourism and Hanjin Heavy Industries.

Iggy Clavecilla, Manotoc’s teammate in RP Team I, carded a five-over 77 and wound up fifth with a 226, while Bell tumbled down to joint sixth with Young Eung Park of Korea (79) at 229.

Sev-Roxas Chua also shot a 77 for RP Team I, which pooled a second straight 149 for a 445, giving the Philippines a four-shot victory over Australia (150-449) and completing the hosts’ sweep of the championship conducted by the NGAP (National Golf Association of the Phils.).

The romp duplicated the Filipino seniors’ sweep of the event two years ago in China where Clavecilla copped the individual crown.

Korea, which surged to the lead in team play in the second round, faltered with a 155-450 and settled for third followed by New Zealand I (161-463), New Zealand 2 (152-464), RP Team 2 (158-466) and Hong Kong 2 (159-481) in that order.

Meanwhile, another RP team made up of Tony Olives, Lino Magpantay and Katy Katigbak shot a 162 for a 472 and likewise ran away with the international team title over Taiwan (169-501).

GMA urges athletes to excel in SEAG By Abac Cordero Saturday, November 24, 2007

President Arroyo yesterday urged the Filipino athletes to do well in the coming Southeast Asian Games in Thailand then asked them to do even better in next year’s Olympics in Beijing.

“We have not forgotten the honor you brought to our country the last time when you won the overall title in the SEA Games,” the President said before some 300 athletes in Malacanang.

“But whether or not you retain the overall title, we are still very proud of you. Filipino athletes are world-class athletes,” she said as the athletes who packed the Heroes Hall cheered.

Then the President talked about some Christmas bonus.

“Of course, there will be Christmas gifts for the winners. Even if you don’t win the overall title, the medal winners will receive a Christmas gift,” said the President who came in an all-black attire.

A total of 593 Filipino athletes will push for Thailand for the 24th SEA Games scheduled Dec. 6 to 15. They will be hard-pressed to win and give the country’s title-retention bid a boost.

“A Thai official recently declared that they will win the overall title and Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia will come in next. It’s such an insult not to mention the Philippines,” said Rep. Monico Puentevella.

“That’s my challenge to all of you. Show them your best. Defend our country. We are the defending champions and we are being insulted,” said the chef-de-mission of the RP delegation.

The President, after a very brief speech, stayed on, actually breaking protocol when she allowed the athletes to come closer, and, in batches, have their pictures taken with her.

Staying close to the President were Philippine Sports Commission chairman Butch Ramirez and Philippine Olympic Committee president Jose “Peping” Cojuangco.

Some athletes, including those from basketball, were barred from entering the Palace due to improper attire.

With a glass of juice on hand, the President mingled with the athletes and sports officials for 40 minutes.

She even signed a baseball bat brought in by RP baseball association head Hector Navasero.

In a small circle in the middle of the shining hall, the President huddled with sports officials and talked about the 2008 Olympics, and her desire to see the country’s first gold medal.

“All we need is to win one. We’ve never gotten it before anyway,” said the President who was reminded of the Philippines winning a silver medal through boxer Jose Villanueva in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

It came under another Macapagal administration – that of her father, Diosdado. Then the President recalled that it was also under her father’s presidency when Gabriel “Flash” Elorde made waves.

“They had the Olympic silver and Flash Elorde then. We have Manny Pacquiao now and hopefully a gold medal in the Olympics,” said the President.

“We must win a gold in Beijing, even if it comes in wushu which is a demonstration sport. What’s important is that we win a gold medal in the Olympics,” she said.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved