Avena closes in on crown with 72

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Abe Avena blew a two-under card in the early going but still pulled away by eight despite a 72 as his rivals sputtered in the second round of the 2016 Philippine Senior and Mid-Amateur Open Championship at Summit Point Golf and Country Club in Lipa City, Batangas on Thursday.

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Avena, who took charge by four over Rolly Viray with an opening 70 Wednesday, looked headed for another under-par card at the par-72 layout as he birdied the first two par-5s on Nos. 3 and 5. But he fumbled with a double-bogey on the par-4 seventh and mixed two birdies against the same number of bogeys at the back for a pair of 36s.

But his 72 and a 142 aggregate put Avena way ahead of the pack in the centerpiece event, eight up on Alan Alegre, who matched Avena’s even par card for a 150 while Benjie Sumulong lay two shots farther back at 152 after a 76 on a course which features holes inspired by some of the famous golf holes in the world.

Rolly Viray, the former national champion from Canlubang, wavered with a 38-41, his 79 dropping him to fourth at 153 with Jose Mari Hechanova and Dave Hernandez tied at 159 after similar 80s and Jose Iñigo at 161 after a 78 in the event sponsored by MVP Sports Foundation, hosted by Summit Point and organized and conducted by the National Golf Association of the Philippines.

It also serves as a qualifier for the 2015 Asian Pacific Golf Confederation national seniors squad, according to the NGAP.

Rudy Amata skied to an 80 for a 162 while Francis Gaston recovered with a 77 and Sengyo Kato struggled with an 82 for 164s in the event held as part of the PLDT Group National Amateur Tour and backed by the Philippine Sports Commission.

Gerald Katigbak, on the other hand, wrested control in the Mid-Am Open category, carding a 76 for a 154 and a three-shot lead over erstwhile leader Richard Salcedo, who limped with an 80, and Japanese Takuya Kawamura, who turned in a 77, for 157s.

Rupert Zaragosa kept the lead in the Elite Amateur section but his 74 and a 144 enabled Jolo Magcalayo to close in at 147 after an even par 72 while Luigi Guerrero fell farther back with a 75 for a 152 heading to the final round of the annual event where the top two will be nominated for the Vietnam Amateur Open slated June 23-26 at the Sacom Golf Resort.

Kristoffer Arevalo made a 77 for a 153 while Earl Morley and Philip De Claro were tied at 155 after a 76 and 77, respectively.

Meanwhile, Glen Vasquez shot a 77 to open a five-shot lead over Rey dela Cruz and Gerardo de Chavez, who carded identical 82s, in the Mid-Am Division 1 with Ronnie Guico and Iboy Ramos staying in the title hunt with 83 and 85, respectively.

Joven Papio turned in an 82 to seize a five-stroke lead over Allain Canapi, who shot an 87, in the Mid-Am Division 2 with Vic Se at third with an 88 while Rustico Ramirez took charge in Seniors Division I with an 85, six ahead of Noli Singca, who made a 91; Nicetas Katigbak paced the Seniors Division II with a 74, 10 shots ahead of Bong Sison and 11 up on Jun De Chavez and Tommy Joson; while Isidro Valencia showed the way in Super Seniors division with an 87, six strokes better than Michael McDonald and 11 ahead of Lirio Escaño Jr.

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