Po stuns Zaragosa, seals title duel vs Magcalayo

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Reed-thin Peter Tyler Po knocked off top seed Rupert Zaragosa with a near-impeccable game then bundled out last year’s champion Noel Langamin to crash into the finals against No. 2 Jolo Magcalayo in the Philippine Amateur Open Match Play Golf Championship at the Orchard Golf and Country Club’s Player course in Dasmariñas, Cavite on Thursday.

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While top seed Yuka Saso and No. 2 Harmie Constantino scored a pair of expected romps to arrange a showdown for the women’s crown, the ninth-ranked Po came away with unexpected victories to gain a rare crack at the men’s crown in the country’s premier match play event sponsored by the MVP Sports Foundation.

The 17-year-old Cebuano, who needed an extra hole to edge Kristoffer Arevalo in the Last 16 Wednesday, birdied No. 15 to move up then pounced on Zaragosa’s struggle on No. 17 to clinch a 2&1 victory in the morning quarters. The Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu student then sustained his form and tripped Langamin, 3&2, in the afternoon semis to barge into the finals of the tournament held as part of the PLDT Group National Amateur Golf Tour.

“I didn’t expect to beat Rupert. The chance to play with him is already a big opportunity but beating him is an honor,” said Po, a club junior titlist still in search for a national championship.

Magcalayo, meanwhile, poured it all out in the other half of the draw in a bid to get a crack at Zaragosa, repulsing Aniceto Mandanas, 2&1, in the quarters then dominating Luis Castro, 5&4, in the Final Four.

“I really did my best since I wanted to meet Rupert in the final. But he lost,” said Magcalayo, who like Po is also in chase for a major championship in the event organized and conducted by the National Golf Association of the Philippines and backed by Cignal and Metro Pacific Investment.

Saso and Constantino both fashioned out lopsided triumphs to seal a clash of the national team mainstays with the former routing Korean Yang Ju Young, 5&3, in the quarters and crushing Kayla Nocum, 4&2, in the semis. Constantino smothered Alex Etter, 7&5, in the morning play then whipped Kristine Torralba, 5&4, to complete a dream title duel.

Saso, out to complete a back-to-back title romp after dominating the Phl Junior Amateur Strokeplay last week, and Constantino teamed up with Sophia Legaspi to capture the World Junior Girls Championship in Canada last year with Saso running away with the individual crown.

Both finals are set over 36 holes.

Zaragosa earlier looked in superb form after disposing of Takuya Kawamura, 6&5, but lost in the face of Po’s solid performance while Langamin fended off Don Petil, 1-up, and nipped Liam Cully, 2&1, only to bow to the rising Cebuano star.

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