Luis Castro put in a gutsy two-under 70 in cloudy, windy day as he slipped past fancied Jobim Carlos for a one-stroke lead while Princess Superal matched par 72 and stood two shots clear off Harmie Constantino in women’s play in the 21st W Express RVF Cup Amateur Golf Championship at Cangolf’s North Course in Canlubang on Tuesday.
Castro, playing out of Aguinaldo, birdied three of the last five holes in an impressive fightback from a triple-bogey mishap on No. 3 as he saved a 36-34 card and found himself a bewildered leader against a crack field led by the pro-bound and reigning national stroke play champion Carlos, Rupert Zaragosa, Aidric Chan, Weiwei Gao, Kristoffer Arevalo, Jolo Mag-calayo, Carl Corpus and Ira Alido plus a host of bets from Korea, Japan and Indonesia.
Carlos settled for three birdies against two bogeys for a 36-35 round and remained on track for one last big title in the ranks before joining the pro tour next month while a host of others lay just a shot or two behind, ensuring a spirited battle in the next three days of the 72-hole championship sponsored by W Express and held in honor of the late golf patron Rod Feliciano, who also served as president of the organizing National Golf Association of the Philippines.
Superal, meanwhile, opened her drive for a seventh straight championship with a 72 as The Country Club ace posted a two-shot lead over reigning stroke play titlist Constantino while Yuka Saso lay a shot farther back at 75 followed by Bernice Olivarez-Ilas of TCC, who had a 76, Nicole Abelar, who made a 77, and Sofia Legaspi and Rivani Sihotang of Indonesia, who hobbled with identical 78s.
Cebu’s Junie Gabasa and TCC bets Kyla Nocum and Sam Martirez turned in similar 79s in the event sponsored by the MVP Sports Foundation, Smart, PLDT and Metro Pacific Investment Corp. and Cangolf and serving as part of the PLDT Group National Amateur Golf Tour.
The 19-year-old Superal, riding the crest of her victories in Hong Kong Ladies Amateur and Philippine Ladies Open last month, gunned down three birdies against two bogeys at the front but dropped a shot on No. 13 while flubbing a couple of makeable birdies putts for a 35-37 card.
Constantino hardly recovered from a double-bogey mishap on No. 1, mixing four birdies against the same number of bogeys the rest of the way while Saso battled back from a woeful 41 at the front with two birdies to save a 34 and 75.
In men’s play, Corpus birdied Nos. 10 and 11 and salvaged a 72, the same output put in by Japanese Yuto Katsuragawa, who has won a number of low amateur honors on the Philippine Golf Tour, and Southwoods mainstay Justin Quiban, while Carlo Villaroman also fought back with three birdies against a bogey at the back for a 73 for joint sixth with Korean Jun John, who blew a solid 34 start with a 39.
Jelbert Gamolo grabbed a share of opening day spotlight when he aced the 172-yard No. 4 using a 6-iron Ping i20 and Titleist No. 4 ball en route to a 74. It was the 18-year-old Del Monte bet’s second hole-in-one after making the feat at Del Monte Golf Club in 2009.
He won P10,000 from Cangolf, including P6,000 in cash and P4,000 gift certificate at Cangolf restaurant plus plaque of recognition from the host club.
Zaragosa, meanwhile, continued to struggle with a new set of irons in blustery condition, fumbling with an 82 on a course he calls home.