CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY — Mindanao players will be in the spotlight when the 75th Philippine Airlines (PAL) Men’s Regular Interclub kicks off at Pueblo de Oro Golf and Country Club and the nearby Del Monte Golf Club in Manolo Fortich on Thursday.

Three of four teams entered in the championship division are made up of players who hail from the talent-rich region.

Eastridge Golf and Country Club in Binangonan, Rizal has tapped all but one player from Mindanao, making it a strong title contender.

Del Monte Golf Club in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon is also expected to make a strong title run as well as South Pacific Davao which is made up of some of the country’s top junior players.

Defending champion Manila Southwoods, however, remains the odds-on favorite to regain the crown.

Led by pro-bound Aidric Chan, the Carmona-based squad boasts a star-studded lineup that includes Ryan Monsalve, Lanz Uy, Masaichi Otake, Shinichi Suzuki, Zach Castro, Miko Granada, and veteran Junjun Plana.

“We have a pretty solid team, but championships are not won on paper,” said Southwoods official Jerome Delariarte.

Eastridge, which placed second in Cebu City last year, and Del Monte loom as the biggest threats to Southwoods’ bid for a ninth championship.

Captained by veteran Gary Sales, Eastridge has six players who come from Davao — Edison Tabalin, Alexander Bisera, Ronel Tagaan, Jhondie Quibol, Chris Remata, and Loyd Labrador. The eighth man, Jeffrey Lumbo — hails from General Santos City.

Del Monte won the championship division the last time the PAL Interclub was held here in 2011.

Following a breakthrough in the senior event last week, Del Monte is gunning for a rare sweep.

“We are going for it,” said Del Monte skipper Yoyoy Velez, one of three senior team members playing in the regular tournament.

Julius Bautista, a member of the 2011 squad, is in Del Monte’s first team as well as top junior golfers Xhylas Luzon and Cliff Nuneza.

South Pacific Davao is playing in the championship division for the first time, fielding the region’s top junior golfers led by JGFP Mindanao Open champion Nino Villasencio.

Play in the championship class kicks off at Pueblo before shifting to Del Monte in the next two days. The final round will be played at Pueblo.

For the first time in its history, the format has been changed to four-to-play, three-to-count.

Competition is also expected to be tight in the Founders division with the return of many-time champion Canlubang after a five-year absence.

Expected also to contend are Cebu Country Club, Orchard, Del Monte Team 2, and Wack Wack, among others.