Paolo Wong fashioned out a gutsy even par 72 while Junia Gabasa scrambled for a 74 in tough conditions as they took charge in their respective divisions at the start of the Philippine Junior Amateur Open Golf Championships at the Sherwood Hills Golf Club in Trece Martires, Cavite yesterday.
Wong hit two birdies against a bogey at the front but wavered in the last nine holes, dropping a stroke on the par-3 16th to settle for a 35-37 card and a one-stroke lead over Paolo Barro, who matched Wong’s frontside card but stumbled with back-to-back bogeys from No. 12 for a 73.
Unlike Wong and Barro, Carl Corpus bounced back from a woeful 41 start with a sizzling 35 to save a 76 but lay four shots off the pace in the 72-hole stroke play tournament serving as the third leg of this year’s PLDT Group National Amateur Tour and organized and conducted by the National Golf Association of the Philippines.
The rest of the bidders in the centerpiece Albatross division (15-18) also struggled in hot, windy conditions with Sean Ramos limping with a 77 and pre-tournament favorites Aidric Chan and Josh Jorge hobbling with 78 and 81, respectively.
Gabasa, on the other hand, launched her drive for a follow-up to her victory in WExpress RVF Cup in Canlubang, coming through with two birdies against the same number of bogeys and a double-bogey, her 37-37 card proving enough to drive her past Maria Tee in the event sponsored by the MVP Sports Foundation, PLDT Group, Cignal and Metro Pacific.
Tee actually wrested control with a 37 after nine holes, went 2-up with a birdie on No. 10 but bogeyed the last three for a 75 with Korean Kang Da Yun in joint third with Kayla Nocum at 77 and Mafy Singson making a 78.
Meanwhile, Wiggam Tapdasan stumbled with an 81 but still posted a 14-shot lead over Gerrard Park (95) in the Ace category (19-and-above) of the four-day tournament which also features the Eagle division for boys and girls.