Eight days ago, two of the best golfers of the 1928-founded Cebu Country Club—and, quite possibly, the entire Cebu—stood at the footsteps of Hole No.1, shook hands, plunged their tees on the grass, then swung.
Eric Deen, 43, loomed tall as a four-time champion. He’s the Dean of Golfers. From 1997 to 1999, then again in 2004, he hoisted the trophy above his shoulders. And, once again, he was on familiar ground: the finals of the 2007 Club Championship.
His opponent? Twenty four years his junior: Charles Hong. “Chuckie,” as he’s called by everyone, is only 19 years old yet, for three years straight, he’s been in the Class A finals. Two years ago, he beat fellow jun-golfer Jojo Tiongko in a thrilling 37th hole, sudden-death playoff to become one of the youngest-ever champions in Cebu Country Club history. He was 17. Last year, he entered the finals again—but lost to arguably the best player to ever set foot in the club, Montito Garcia.
The “Mud-man,” he’s called. On the third hole of the Iloilo Golf and Country Club in Santa Barbara, he swims alone in search of money in a pond where errant golf balls dive. No net to catch, no goggles to see underwater—he searches by hand beneath the pond’s muddy bottom.
“Pa-picture anay,” I shouted, not wanting to miss this rare shot.
Gamely, he emerged from the brown water then flexed his muscles for a pose. I clicked the camera; we chuckled, he laughed.
1. Back straight and knees bent.
2. Form a loose grip.
3. Keep your head down.
4. Avoid a quick back swing.
5. Stay out of the water.
6. Try not to hit anyone.
7. Let others go ahead if you’ll take long.
8. Don’t stare while others address their balls.
9. Quiet please. Others are preparing to go.
10. Don’t take extra strokes.
Well done! Now flush the urinal, wash your hands, go outside and tee off!
I LOVE MORGAN FREEMAN. To my mind, no actor is more credible, more respected, and more trusted than the 70-year-old golfer. Golfer? Yes. “Morgan Freeman the Golfer.” You see, in the upcoming June 25 issue of Newsweek, Morgan Freeman writes about his passion for the sport. “Take Another Swing,” it’s titled, the by-line reads: Golf has taught the actor an important lesson about life: Age doesn’t have to keep you out of the game. Golfer or not, you have to read this…
Golf statisticians estimate the odds of a hole-in-one to be as high as 42,952 to 1. That’s for the average club golfer. The insurance companies? Haha. Of course they want to play safe—so they peg the odds at 15,000 to 1. Still, that’s difficult. This means that—if you follow the odds—you need 15,000 swings before you can hole that one shot. Difficult? No. Lucky.
Now, here’s an unbelievable story I read in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, published last Friday (June 15). It’s entitled “One for Ripley’s: Fonacier aces same hole in 2 days.”
All of 50 years old, Montito Garcia yesterday beat the defending champion Charles “Chuckie” Hong—who, at 18 years old is not even half his age—to win the Cebu Country Club 2006 Championships—for a record seventh time.
I watched the last seven holes of the match play finals alongside my tennis buddy Macky Michael and dozens of others that included former champions Eric Deen and Jovi Neri. Twenty golf carts trailed the pair until the championship ended at 4:30 p.m. on the 33rd hole when Montito won 5 and 3.
Wearing a yellow Nike shirt, Montito then embraced Chuckie on the Hole No. 15 green, took off his white cap, waved to the crowd, then basked in their thunderous applause.