Katsuragawa slows down but pads lead to 5

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Yuka Saso putts off the fringe on No. 8.  CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Yuka Saso putts off the fringe on No. 8.
CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Yuto Katsuragawa overcame a poor start with a strong finish in a windy day, birdying Nos. 16 and 17 to save a 71 and pull away by five as erstwhile pursuer Paolo Wong skied to an 82 halfway through the 2017 Philippine Amateur Golf Championship at the Riviera’s Couples course in Silang, Cavite on Friday.

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Katsuragawa, 18, bogeyed three of the first five holes and dropped one more stroke at the back but fought back with four birdies to salvage a 37-34 card that still stood one of the day’s two best scores given the tough playing condition.

All came in ruffled by swirling wind with Wong, who rallied with a 71 late Thursday to close in on the hot-starting Japanese, fading with a woeful 42-40 marred by a double bogey and a triple bogey.

With a 140 aggregate, spiked by an opening 69, Katsuragawa stood five shots clear of Thai Sadom Kaewkanjana, who matched the Japanese second round output for a 145 while Korean Joo Hyung Kim carded a 73 and moved to third at 147 in the event held under the PLDT Group National Amateur Golf Tour and sponsored by the MVP Sports Foundation, Smart and Metro Pacific Investment Corp.

Yuka Saso also stormed to a five-shot lead with a two-under 70, rattling off five birdies at the back that negated her three-bogey mishap as she totaled a 139 with erstwhile challenger and defending champion Harmie Constantino wavered with a 75 and fell to 146.

Thai Pajaree Anannarukarn recovered from an opening 75 with the day’s best three-under 69 but still stood five shots behind at 144 while Korean Ji Hyeon Lee shot a 71 to seize third place at 145 in the event organized and conducted by the National Golf Association of the Philippines.

Another Korean, Hee Ji Kim matched par 72 for a 148 while Malaysian veteran campaigner Nur Durriyah Damian made a 73 for a 149 and local bet Kristine Torralba came up with a 76 to tie Korean teener Hwang Min Jeong, who fumbled with an 81, at 157.

Back in men’s play, Aniceto Mandanas sputtered with a 75 to drop to joint fourth with Carl Corpus at 149, nine strokes off the pace. Corpus missed joining Joo at third with two bogeys in the last four holes.

Aidric Chan and Ira Alido pooled identical 150s after a 73 and 75, respectively, while Koreans Min Jun Lee and Seong Hyeon Lee had 151s after a 77 and 74, respectively.

Katsuragawa, seeking to nail an individual crown after powering Manila Southwoods to victory in the recent Fil-Am Championship and teaming up with Corpus to run away with the NGAP National Doubles title last week, appeared headed for a big foldup as he bogeyed Nos. 1, 4 and 5, enabling a slew of rivals to close in. But he regained his bearing and rhythm and birdied Nos. 7, 9 and 11, dropped another stroke on the 12th but came away with back-to-back birdies from No. 16 to zero in on the championship with 36 holes left to play.

Kaewkanjana settled for a run of pars in tough condition while cashing in on the two par 5s Nos. 7 and 16) which he birdied to negate a bogey on the third for a 71 while Joo matched Katsuragawa’s birdie-birdie finish after a double-bogey start and a bogey on No. 5 for that 73.

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