Tom Kim slowed down with a 71 but hiked his lead to four over Rupert Zaragosa in men’s play while fellow Korean Hwang Min-jeong all but wrapped up the women’s crown with a 68 in the third round of the 2018 Philippine Amateur Open Championship at Riviera Golf and Country Club’s Couples course in Silang, Cavite on Saturday.
Kim, out to make up for his runner-up finish to absentee Sadom Kaewkanjana of Thailand last year, actually pulled away by six with a three-under card with four holes to go but fumbled with bogeys on Nos. 16 and 17 and settled for a 36-35 for a three-day output of 212.
But that proved enough to pad his overnight three-stroke lead to four as Zaragosa struggled in the early going and needed to rebound with three birdies to get back into the thick of things. But a bogey on the par-3 17th dropped the Filipino bet farther back at 216 heading to the final 18 holes of the annual event sponsored by the MVP Sports Foundation and backed by One Tagaytay Place Hotel Suites as official hotel.
Luis Castro, who shared the first round lead with two others at 70 Thursday, also matched par 72 and fell by five at 217 while Cebu’s Weiwei Gao sputtered with a closing 38 for a 73 and stood way behind at 219.
But while Kim wavered at the finish, Hwang came through with a fiery windup, birdying Nos. 16 and 17 to fire a four-under card that went with her earlier 67 and 69.
With a whopping 204 aggregate, the young Korean, who placed seventh here last year and a one-time winner in the country’s premier ladies pro circuit, raced away with an 11-stroke lead over Cebu’s Lois Kaye Go, who finally broke par with a 70 but lay too far behind at 215 in the event organized and conducted by the National Golf Association of the Philippines.
Lee Ji Hyeon, also of Korea, fumbled with a 73 for third at 221 while last year’s runner-up Kim Hee Ji skied with an 81 for a 223 followed by Clare Legaspi (72-227), Mikha Fortuna (78-229) and 2016 champion Harmie Constantino (79-229), Thai Tunrada Piddon (73-232), reigning Philippine Ladies Open winner Bianca Pagdanganan (80-233) and Sofia Legaspi (74-236) in that order.
Back in men’s play of the tournament held as part of the PLDT National Amateur Golf Tour, Singapore’s Gregory Foo also struggled in hot condition with a 75 for a 222 while Japanese Gen Nagai pooled a 223 after a 74 in a tie with Thai Nopparat Panichphon (75), Carl Corpus (77), Abdul Hadi, also of Singapore, (77) and Aidric Chan (78).
Kim actually went to work early with a birdie on the first hole and after another birdie against two bogeys to close out the front at 36, the rising star scorching the backside with birdies on Nos. 10, 13 and 14 only to reel back with bogeys on the 16th and 17th.
In contrast, Zaragosa, a former winner, bogeyed two of the first three holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 6 and 7 before flubbing a couple of birdie chances at the back before closing out with a birdie-bogey-par for that 72.