Jobim Carlos birdied No. 17 from close range to salvage a one-over 73 in tough conditions, posting a one-stroke edge over Ira Alido at the start of the Philippine Amateur (Stroke Play) Open Golf Championship at the Eagle Ridge Golf and Country Club in Gen. Trias, Cavite on Tuesday.
Aidric Chan, Weiwei Gao and Luis Castro carded identical 75s, Koreans Jang Jun Ha and Lee Geon and local bets Carl Corpus and Gen Nagai turned in similar 76s, and Rubert Zaragosa, Korean Jang Yu Bin and Singapore’s Jeryl Tan groped for 77s as the Aoki layout, kept in championship form all year, bedeviled the games of the competing field with the wind coming into the play from tee-off, keeping the scores soaring and the players forced to make a 1- or 2-club adjustment.
“Given the wind condition, my game plan was to score an even par,” said Carlos, who struggled off the mound and hit just eight fairways while missing eight greens.
Harmie Constantino bucked a bogey start with three straight birdies from No. 4 but fumbled with three bogeys the rest of the way to likewise shoot a 73 and wrest a one-stroke lead over Malaysian Nur Durriyah Damian and Yuka Saso in the women’s side of the event serving as the kickoff leg of this year’s PLDT Group National Amateur Golf Tour sponsored by the MVP Sports Foundation, Smart, PLDT and Metro Pacific Investment Corp.
Saso, who won the Thailand Juniors crown last month, recovered from a 40 start with two late birdies to match Damian’s 74 while Korean Hwang Min Jeong, winner of a local pro tournament last year, stayed in early contention despite a 75 in a tie with Jona Magcalayo and Felicia Medalla while LK Go shot a 76, and Korean Lee Ji Hyeon and Genevieve Ling I-Rynn of Malaysia carded identical 77s.
“Aoki is always tournament-ready and the condition is tough year-in and year-out especially in the presence of the wind,” said Eagle Ridge GCC general manager Raymund Bunquin.
Carlos, who beat Zaragosa by three also here last year, rolled in a 15-foot birdie putt on No. 4 to seize early control but hit an errant drive on the next for bogey, dumped his second shot on No. 6 into a hazard before flubbing an eight-footer for par on No. 13 to drop to two-over.
But the recent NGAP National Doubles winner with Inigo Raymundo, recovered a bit on the par-3 17th, setting up a five-foot putt for birdie before parring the last hole to save a 73 for the early lead in the 72-hole championship organized and conducted by the National Golf Association of the Philippines.
Alido actually seized a two-shot lead over the 67-man starting field with a 35 but stumbled with bogeys on Nos. 10 and 13 before dropping three strokes on the par-3 No. 16 after . He, however, bounced back with birdies on the next two holes to stay in the hunt.
Jelbert Gamolo, one of the pre-tournament favorites, withdrew after nine holes due to shoulder injury.
The top 50 in the men’s side after 36 holes and the top 30 in the women’s side will advance to the final two rounds of the annual event hosted by the Eagle Ridge GCC.