Power-hitting Yuto Katsu-ragawa birdied all but one of the four par-5s for a four-under 68, storming to a four-shot lead over overnight leader Luis Castro and Justin Quiban even as Princess Superal pulled away by six with a 71 in the 21st W Express RVF Cup Amateur Golf Championship at Cangolf’s North Course in Canlubang on Wednesday.
Complementing his superb driving with solid iron play and putting, Katsuragawa gunned down five birdies on Nos. 2, 14 and 17 – all par 5s – and on Nos. 7 and 10 against a missed green bogey on that par-3 11th that shoved the Japanese, who has won a number of low amateur honors on the Philippine Golf Tour, from joint third to the top of the heap at 140 halfway through the 72-hole championship sponsored by W Express and held in honor of the late golf patron Rod Feliciano.
Castro failed to sustain an impressive opening 70 with a shaky start of two double bogeys and a bogey against two birdies although he toughened up a bit at the back with a birdie on No. 15 for a 74 and a 144.
Quiban, a mainstay of Southwoods team in the Interclub, mixed three birdies against the same number of bogeys for a 72 to join the Aguinaldo bet at second while fancied Jobim Carlos never recovered from a bogey-riddled 39 start and ended up with a 75, dropping from solo second to fourth at 146, six shots adrift.
Jelbert Gamolo also carded a 75 but fell nine shots behind at 149 while Weiwei Gao and Carl Corpus assembled identical 151s after a 75 and 79, respectively, with the rest, including Rupert Zaragosa, way behind to pose a threat heading to the last 36 holes of the annual 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.
Zaragosa, a pre-tournament favorite, hardly recovered from a disastrous 82 with a 75 and lay 17 strokes behind at 157.
Superal also poised herself for another runaway victory, her 71, the lone under-par card in their side, giving her a 143 aggregate, six strokes clear off The Country Club teammate Bernice Olivarez-Ilas, who carded a 73 for a 149 while erstwhile second running and reigning national stroke play champion Harmie Constantino hobbled with a 76 and slid to third at 150 followed by Yuka Saso, who limped with a 77 for a 152 and Sam Martirez, who shot a 75 for a 154 in a tie with Nicole Abelar, who made a 77.
“I feel good and in control of my game. But a six-shot lead is nothing at Cangolf, so I have to press on and try to pull way,” said Superal, looking for her seventh straight win, including a follow-up to her title romps in Hong Kong Ladies Amateur and the Philippine Ladies Open last month.
Katsuragawa also tries to match Superal’s charge in his side of the battle in anticipation of a big third round charge by the likes of Quiban, Castro and Carlos, who is itching to nail this one and anchor Cangolf’s title drive in the Interclub two weeks from now before moving to the pro ranks next month.