LUISITA Golf Club is gearing up for a tough title defense in the senior competition of the 75th Philippine Airlines Interclub golf team championships.

Canlubang and Manila Southwoods have beefed up their lineups to challenge Luisita at the Pueblo de Oro Golf and Country Club in Cagayan de Oro and Del Monte golf course in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon.

Following the exit of Benjie Sumulong, who will now play for Alabang, Luisita recalled Jing Tuason and added Ferdie Barboza and Marvin Caparros to backstop holdovers Rodel Mangulabnan, Ronnie Littaua, Chino Raymundo, Marty Ilagan, and Dan Cruz.

Luisita came from behind to beat Canlubang by seven points at the 2023 PAL Interclub in Cebu City last year.

“Luisita still has a solid team even without Benjie Sumulong this year,” said Luisita non-playing team captain Jeric Hechanova. “But Canlubang should be favored with three new solid players who will be a good addition to their existing lineup.”

Canlubang will return with only five members from its 2023 team – Abe Rosal, Damasus Wong, Zaldy Villa, Abe Avena, and Rolly Viray.

The Sugar Barons have tapped Pem Rosal, John Paul Reyes, and Jess Hernandez to provide additional firepower.

Manila Southwoods is hoping to break the Luisita-Canlubang stranglehold of the event by securing the services of many-time Alabang Country Club champion Jorge Gallent.

Mr. Gallent will team up with top gun Junjun Plana, Thirdy Escano, Joseph Tambunting, Theody Pascual, and Mandred Guangko who all played at the 2023 PAL Interclub in Cebu City.

Southwoods also tapped Monet Garcia and Michael Cheon.

The PAL Interclub seniors’ competition, which kicks off on Feb. 22, will serve as the aperitif to the men’s regular tournament set on March 1.

The diamond anniversary edition of what is regarded as the country’s unofficial golf club team championships will now be played with a new format that guarantees keener competition.

From the usual five players coming out for each team every day, the men’s regular event will now use the four-to-play, three-to-count format that makes for balanced action.

Looming as a possible title contender is Alabang spearheaded by Sumulong. The team is also made up of Arnel Paras, Toti Zara, Kevin Kim, RJ Maclang, Jerome Hernandez, Timmy Yang, and Marc Reyes.

The 75th staging of the PAL Interclub is supported by diamond sponsors Mastercard and Asian Journal. Platinum sponsors include Airbus, Primax and Araw Hospitality while gold sponsors are Tanduay and Asia Brewery. Joining the event as silver sponsors are ABS-CBN Global and Radio Mindanao Network. VISA is a minor sponsor while Must Glow is joining as a donor.