Hernandez sets PH Seniors pace with 72

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Dave Hernandez used a strong start to card an even par 72 and grab a two-stroke lead over a late-charging Abe Rosal at the start of the Philippine Seniors and Mid-Amateur Open Championships at the Mt. Malarayat Golf and Country Club composite course in Lipa, City Batangas on Wednesday.

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Hernandez birdied two of the first four holes at Mt. Makulot but bogeyed No. 6 then dropped another stroke on No. 16 of Mt. Lobo against a slew of pars as the Calatagan Golf Club manager held off a rallying Rosal to stay on top of the centerpiece 55-years-old-and-above field.

While Hernandez leaned on a strong start to seize control, Rosal used a fiery windup to stay in the hunt, hitting two birdies in the last four holes to save a 74 after a bogey-triple-bogey start in the 54-hole tournament held as part of the PLDT Group National Amateur Golf Tour and backed by the MVP Sports Foundation, Cignal, Metro Pacific Investments, Srixon and Cobra.

Abe Avena, who dominated the Seniors field at Summit Point last year, also fought back from a shaky frontside stint, closing out with a 36 to share third place at 75 with Tommy Manotoc, who wavered with a 39 at Mt. Lobo.

Jose Mari Hechanova blew a 36 start with a wobbly 44 as he dropped to fifth at 80 while Japanese Kato Sengyo turned in an 81 followed by Rolly Viray, who skied to an 82, Mike Besa, who fumbled with an 84, Bobby Celestino, who had an 88, and Ernesto Lim and Albert Que, who hobbled with 89 and 91, respectively.

Don Petil and Korean Shin Seo Yun, meanwhile, took control in the Elite Amateur Open with the former shooting a 73 to post a one-stroke lead over Ivan Monsalve in the men’s division and the latter turning in a 75 to likewise open a one-shot edge over compatriot Kwon Seo Yon and Margie Atienza, who both had 76s, in the women’s side of the event organized and conducted by the National Golf Association of the Philippines and supported by hole-in-one sponsor Bushnell Prox2 Rangefinder.

Siblings Jolo and Jonas Magcalayo took the third and fourth spots in men’s play with 75 and 78, respectively, while Korean Oh Sang Jin had a 79 and Pierre Ticzon came up with an 81.

Kristine Torralba failed to get going with a 38 start and needed a last-hole birdie to shoot a 77 and stay just two shots off Shin while Korean Kang Da Yeon limped with an 82 and another Koran Kim Hui Won shot an 85.

Meanwhile, action in the other classes starts today, including the Mid-Am (Divisions I and II) and Seniors (Divisions I and II) and Super Seniors).

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