• Thai, Saso run away with Philippine Amateur crowns

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    Thai Sadom Kaewkanjana (left) and Filipino-Japanese Yuka Saso hold their huge trophies after dominating their respective divisions in the 2017 Philippine Amateur Golf Championship.  CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

    Thai Sadom Kaewkanjana (left) and Filipino-Japanese Yuka Saso hold their huge trophies after dominating their respective divisions in the 2017 Philippine Amateur Golf Championship. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

    Thai Sadom Kaewkanjana and Fil-Japanese Yuka Saso closed out with identical one-under 71s and completed their domination of their respective sides in the 2017 Philippine Amateur Golf Championship at the Riviera’s Couples course on Sunday in Cavite.

    Bracing for a shootout with Japanese Yuto Katsuragawa and Korean Joo Hyung Kim, Kaewkanjana instead romped off with a blowout as his rivals failed to mount a final round charge in ideal condition, enabling the Thai to cruise to a seven-shot victory on a 35-36 for a 72-hole total of 283 in the men’s division of the event held under the PLDT Group National Amateur Golf Tour.

    He spiked his runaway triumph with a near-flawless 67 Saturday that saw Kaewkanjana surge from five-down to three-up as two-day leader Katsuragawa fumbled with a 75 with the latter failing to recover and finished with a 77 marred by a triple-bogey 8 on No. 11. Katsuragawa wound up third at 292 with Joo snatching runner-up honors with a 290 after a 70 in the country’s premier championship sponsored by the MVP Sports Foundation, Smart and Metro Pacific Investment Corp.

    Aniceto Mandanas carded a 73 to place fourth at 294 while Carl Corpus shot a 74 for fifth at 296 followed by Paolo Wong (72-299), Korean Junha Jang (75-304), Lucas Lam (75-305), and Dan Cruz and Ira Alido who tied for ninth at 306 after a 72 and 74, respectively.

    Saso, meanwhile, completed a wire-to-wire victory in ladies play in the tournament organized and conducted by the National Golf Association of the Philippines, coasting to a whopping nine-shot win on a 279 aggregate despite a double-bogey, bogey-par finish.

    That shaky windup hardly mattered for the 16-year-old reigning World Junior Girls’ champion as she secured the crown with a four-birdie feat after 15 holes, posting leads of as many as 12 shots heading to the last three holes.

    Hee Ji Kim of Korea rallied with two birdies at the back for a 72 as she took runner-up honors with a 288 while last year’s champion Harmie Constantino shot a second 72 to settle for third at 290 followed by Thai Pajaree Anannarukan (73-292) Malaysian Nur Durriyah Damian (74-296), Korean Ji Hyeon Lee (77-299), Hwang Min Jeong, also of Korea (70-300), Lois Go (71-304) and Katie Kim of Malaysia and Bianca Pagdanganan, who ended up tied at ninth at 316 after a 74 and 77, respectively.

    Kaewkanjana didn’t give Katsuragawa and Joo any room for a comeback as he birdied Nos. 1 and 5 to negate a bogey mishap on No. 4 for a 35 at the turn. He dropped two strokes in the first two holes at the back but rebound with birdies in two of the next three before parring the rest to clinch the victory which now pro Jobim Carlos won last year.

    Eight behind Kaewkanjana at the start of the final round, Joo never gained headway until he gunned down back-to-back birdies from No. 15 but stumbled with a bogey on the 17th and settled for a 35-35.

    It was also a sorry 36-hole finish for Katsuragawa, who was impressive in the first two rounds only to falter in the third and bombed out in the final round with bogeys on Nos. 6 and 8, a triple bogey on the par-5 11th and a final hole bogey against a lone birdie on No. 9.

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