Yuka Saso and Kim Joo Hyung came away with a pair of five-under 67s to all but wrap up their respective second straight titles with huge leads after three rounds of the Philippine Junior Amateur Open Golf Championships (Strokeplay) at the Sherwood Hills Golf Club in Trece Martirez, Cavite on Thursday.
Saso, who pulled away by five over Junia Gabasa despite a second round 72 Wednesday, birdied four of the first five holes in impressive fashion, rammed in two more on Nos. 11 and 13 but failed to complete a bogey-free stint with a missed green mishap on the par-3 16th for a 32-35 card.
Still, that moved Saso, 16, closer to a repeat victory in the country’s premier junior tournament serving as part of the PLDT Group National Amateur Golf Tour and sponsored by the MVP Sports Foundation as she assembled a 54-hole aggregate of nine-under 207, eight strokes clear of a late-charging fellow national teammate Harmie Constantino.
The 16-year-old Constantino rebounded from a woeful second 78 with a 68 but the reigning W Express-RVF Cup champion could only pool a 219 heading to the final 18 holes of the annual event backed by Cignal and Metro Pacific Investment and organized and conducted by the National Golf Association of the Philippines.
Gabasa dropped to third at 220 after a 74 while Kristine Torralba carded a 75 for a 229 and Nicole Abelar shot a 74 for a 230.
Kim actually turned in a more impressive 67, a bogey-free 34-33 card that put the young, talented Korean way ahead at 212, six shots ahead of Ryan Monsalve, who tied Kim after 36 holes but faltered with a 73 marred by a triple-bogey 7 on No. 14. He slid to second at 218 in the event serving as the third and last leg of the NGAP SEA Games national team qualifying.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Amateur Open Match Play Golf Championship will be held April 24-28 at the Orchard Golf and Country Club in Dasmariñas, Cavite.
Carlo Gatmaytan matched par 72 and lay a shot farther back at 219 while Weiwei Gao made a 73 for a 221 followed by Carl Corpus (74-224), Perry Bucay (78-226), Jolo Magcalayo (71-228), Paolo Wong (73-228), Peter Po (75-230) and Kristoffer Arevalo (81-231).
Meanwhile, Rupert Zaragosa settled for a 72 for a 218 as he held on to a four-shot lead over Dan Cruz, who fired a 71 for a 222, in the Special Division (18-and-above) with Airon Sorino way back at third with 242 after a 77.
Lizbeth Alcantara turned in an 82 for a 251 as she clung to a one-stroke lead over Annika Guangko, who shot an 80 for a 252 with Korean Baek Yeun Jea in far third at 269 after a 91 in the girls’ side of the 18-over class.
Pauline Quintanilla also secured the Special Division (13-and-below) girls’ crown with a 90 for a 255, 22 shots ahead of Daniella Gatti, who had a 277 after an 88, while David Guangko rallied with a 75 for a 242 and grabbed a two-stroke lead over Miguel Ilas, who stumbled with an 82 for a 244, in the boys’ category. Francis Lanuza made an 86 for third at 248.
Pressed by Monsalve after 36 holes, Kim birdied Nos. 4, 8, 11, 12 and 15 to pull away as the former, who stayed abreast with the Korean with birdies on Nos. 8 and 10, dropped three strokes on the par-4 14th and wound up with a 38 and a 73.
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