Thai ace surges with 67 as Yuto crumbles

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Thai Sadom Kaewkanjana came away with a near-flawless 67 then pounced on Yuto Katsuragawa’s mid-round meltdown to grab a three-stroke lead in the topsy-turvy third day of the 2017 Philippine Amateur Golf Championship at the Riviera’s Couples course in Silang, Cavite on Saturday.

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Kaewkanjana put on a strong start and stronger finish to string nines of 35-32 and rally from five down to three-up as the erstwhile Japanese pacesetter dropped five strokes in a nine-hole stretch from No. 8 and hobbled with a 75.

Thai Sadom Kaewkanjana flashes top form off the mound on No. 7. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Thai Sadom Kaewkanjana flashes top form off the mound on No. 7. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

That eight-shot swing in another windy day shoved Kaewkanjana to the lead at 212 as Katsuragawa slid to second at 215 heading to the final 18 holes of the country’s premier championship held under the PLDT Group National Amateur Golf Tour and sponsored by the MVP Sports Foundation, Smart and Metro Pacific Investment Corp.

Young Korean Joo Hyung Kim carded a 73 and stood way behind at third with a 220 while Aniceto Mandanas matched par 72 for a 221 and Carl Corpus turned in a 73 for a 222.

While Katsuragawa fell to hang tough, Fil-Japanese Yuka Saso produced another sterling round, a 69, as she all but wrapped up the ladies crown in the event organized and conducted by the National Golf Association of the Philippines.

Saso, 15, rode on a sizzling backside stint to outclass the ladies field and virtually clinch the championship. She gunned down four birdies for a closing 32 and a 69 for a 208 aggregate, counting her 69 and 70 in the first two rounds.

Moving 5-up after 36 holes, Saso actually struggled at the front with two bogeys against a birdie but Thai Pajaree Anannarukarn failed to cash in on the Fil-Japanese ace’s shaky start and also carded a 37 en route to a 75-219 and Harmie Constantino couldn’t do better than produced a three-birdie, three-bogey effort for a 72 and a 218.

But Hee Ji Kim took the challenger’s role and put in a near-flawless stint on the four par3s, acing No. 8 while birdying Nos. 14 and 17. But her 68 and a 216 still put her eight shots off Saso, who stood 18 holes away from scoring a follow-up to her World Junior Girls title feat in Canada late last year.

Another Korean, Ji Hyeon Lee, fumbled with a 77 and slid to fifth at 222 in a tie with Malaysian Nur Durriyah Damian, who carded a 73, while Hwang Min Jeong rebounded from an 81 with a 73 for a 230 and Lois Go shot a 75 for a 233.

Five behind at the start of the round, Kaewkanjana pressed his bid with back-to-back birdie start, dropped a stroke on the sixth but rattled off four birdies at the back, spiked by a three-straight feat from No. 15.

In a flight behind, Katsuragawa held sway with a run of pars and a birdie on the seventh. But the 18-year-old newly-crowned NGAP National Doubles champion lost his rhythm and touch, fumbling with back-to-back bogeys from No. 8. He kept the lead with a slew of pars at the back but reeled back with a bogey on No. 15 and lost the lead with a double-bogey mishap on No. 16. He needed to birdie the 18th to save a 75.

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