Aniceto Mandanas leaned on a birdie-eagle feat from No. 13 to hold off Jets Sajulga and cling to a one-stroke lead with a 70 but Harmie Constantino all but wrapped the women’s crown with a huge 10-shot lead despite a 75 in the second round of the NGAP Northern Luzon Regional Golf Championship at the Beverly Place Golf Club in Pampanga on Friday.
Mandanas, who went 2-up over Aidric Chan and Richnell Albano with an opening 72, appeared headed for a meltdown with a two-over card after 10 holes. But he birdied the 13th, gunned down an eagle on the par-5 14th then settled for pars the rest of the way to stay on top at 142.
Sajulga, who started the day at fourth with a 75, put on a fiery birdie-birdie windup to highlight a 34-34 card as he closed in on Mandanas at 143. But Oh Sang Jin also sizzled at the back of the short, par 34-37 layout, firing a 33 for the tournament-best 66 and a 144, making it a three-way battle for the crown in the 54-hole championship sponsored by the MVP Sports Foundation, Smart, PLDT and MPIC.
Chan slipped to fourth with a 72 but still remained in the hunt at 146 while Albano faltered with a 75 and tumbled tow fifth at 149.
But while the frontrunners used the backside to sustain their respective title drives, Rupert Zaragosa struggled in the last nine holes, limping with a 41 and bowing out of contention at 151 in a tie with Jolo Magcalayo, who carded a 75.
Gab Manotoc turned in a 72 for a 154 in joint eighth with Ha Tae Won and Seung Hyeon Back, who both shot 76s.
Constantino, meanwhile, strung up 37 and 38 for a 147 and doubled her opening round lead over Korean Shin Seo Yun, who skied to an 80 for a 157, as she moved 18 holes away from nailing another victory in the event organized and conducted by the National Golf Association of the Philippines and serving as part of the PLDT Group National Amateur Tour.
Nicole Abelar made a 79 while Kristine Torralba fumbled with an 80 as they shared third place at 160 with Ashia Nocum at fourth at 164 after an 81.
Sam Dizon also virtually notched the Ladies Handicap Division-Open crown with a 78 for a 157, nine strokes ahead of Cielo Fregil, who had a 166 after an 81, while Korean Kwon Tae Yon pooled a 192 after a 93.
In the Men’s Division Group I, Alan Alegre shot a 79 to force a three-way tie for the lead at 159 with Francis Telan and August Cruz, who carded 80 and 82, respectively, with Sean Ramos staying within sight at 160 after a 77.
First round leader Jose Antonio Narciso stumbled with an 85 after a 76 but fell just two behind at 161 while Lisandro Opulencia made an 82 for a 162 to stage what promises to be a fierce final round shootout.
Ricardo Loyola turned in an 84 for a 167 to post a four-stroke lead over Rolando Bool, who had an 82, and Alain Canapi, who also carded an 84, in the Men’s Division Group 2.