Noel Langamin shocked Rupert Zaragosa with a dominant start then warded off his fancied rival’s charge with clutch iron shots in afternoon play as he captured the 2016 Philippine Amateur Open Match Play Championship crown with a 3&2 victory at the Orchard Golf and Country Club in Dasmariñas, Cavite on Friday.
Langamin sustained top form coming off a 3&2 romp over Japanese Yuto Katsuragawa in the semis Thursday while pouncing on Zaragosa’s sputtering start to go 6-up in the first half of their marathon 36-hole finale.
The Del Monte ace, 26, wavered a bit at resumption but held sway at the backside with superb iron game and gutsy pars to foil his multi-titled rival, who came into the title duel looking for a follow-up to his victory in the first MVPSF Visayas Regional Match Play in Cebu three weeks ago.
“This is my biggest win since helping Del Monte win the PAL Interclub crown (in 2011),” said Langamin, who turned in a mediocre 10th place finish in the 36-hole stroke play elims then hacked out back-to-back 3&2 wins over Bobby Celestino and Jelbert Gamolo in the knockout phase before edging second seed Tom Kim of Korea, 1-up, in the quarters.
Korean Hwang Min Jeong likewise kept the momentum of a solid start, going 2-up after 18 holes in her title clash with Diana Araneta then unleashing a stronger finishing kick to fashion out a 4&2 win in the women’s side of the country’s premier match play event sponsored by the MVP Sports Foundation, Smart, PLDT, the Philippine Sports Commission and Metro Pacific Investments Corp.
While Langamin savored his biggest win, Hwang nailed her second major triumph in seven months following her two-shot feat over fellow amateur Princess Superal and now LPGA campaigner Cyna Rodriguez in the ladies pro circuit’s Mt. Malarayat leg last year.
Asked if the victory would spur him to finally move to the pro ranks, Langamin, who took up the sport at 12 but only played competitive golf six years later, said he plans to try it out this December only if his backer King Stehmeier would continue supporting him.
The 15-year-old Hwang could also be ripe for the pros this early with the lanky shotmaker from Riviera putting on an impressive performance all week, finishing No. 3 in the elims then blasting Tomi Arejola, 5&4, and second seed Jona Magcalayo, 6&5, to seal a clash with the 18-year-old Araneta from Poveda and Wack Wack Golf.
Katsuragawa, winner of two low amateur honors on the Asian Development Tour recently, edged Luigi Guerrero, 3&1, to clinch third place honors while Kristine Torralba nipped Magcalayo, 1-up, to place second runner-up in the women’s side of the event organized and conducted by the National Golf Association of the Philppines and held as PLDT Group National Amateur Golf Tour.