CANLUBANG—Ira Alido rode on a superb frontside stint to fire a two-under 70 and wrest a one-stroke lead over Rupert Zaragosa and three others while Mikha Fortuna and Bernice Olivarez-Ilas took charge in the women’s side with 74s at the start of the W Express RVF Cup Amateur Golf Championship at Cangolf’s North course here yesterday.
Alido birdied Nos. 6 and 8 inside 10 feet then survived a roller-coaster backside run of two birdies against the same number of bogeys to turn in a 34-36 card and set the early pace in the 72-hole championship held as part of the PLDT Group National Amateur Golf Tour and backed by the MVP Sports Foundation, Cignal and Metro Pacific Investments.
Weiwei Gao actually matched Alido’s opening 34 but the Cebuano bet wavered at the finish, bogeying the last two holes to drop to joint second with Paolo Wong, Jolo Magcalayo and Zaragosa at 71.
Wong rallied with birdies on Nos. 11 and 14 to close out with a 34, Magcalayo birdied No. 17 to complete a 35-36 card while Zaragosa, out to atone for a string of so-so finishes in recent tournaments, hit three birdies against two bogeys to get into the mix early in the tournament organized and conducted by the National Golf Association of the Philippines and held in honor of the late golf patron and former NGAP president Rod Feliciano.
Kai Yasuma pieced a pair of 36s to seize solo sixth as he took the cudgels for fellow Japanese Yuto Katsuragawa, winner of two tournaments late last year but who fumbled with five bogeys and one double bogey against two birdies for a 77, seven shots off Alido.
Carl Corpus and Ryan Monsalve carded identical 74s, Carlo Gatmaytan, Luis Castro and Dan Cruz matched 75s while Korean Won Yong Hwi and Paolo Barro stood six strokes off the pace with 76s.
Fortuna and Ilas, on the other hand, bounced back with a pair of 36s on their homeward trip at the front as The Country Club teammates saved a pair of 74s to show up national team mainstays Harmie Constantino and Yuka Saso in women’s play of the event, one of NGAP’s flagship tournaments hosted by Cangolf.
Fortuna, who hobbled with two bogeys in a birdie-less backside stint, birdied the eighth bit missed grabbing the solo lead with a final hole bogey to drop to a share of the lead with Ilas, winner of a pro tournament last year who rebounded from a double-bogey mishap on No. 18 with a two-birdie, two-bogey effort at the front.
Constantino blew a one-shot lead at the back with a double-bogey on No. 6 and a bogey on the next and slipped into a tie with Saso, the reigning national champion, who struck back from a disastrous 39 at the back with a gutsy even par 36.
Korean Hwang Min-jeong, who also won a pro tournament in 2015, joined Saso and Constantino, who with Sofia Legaspi teamed up to win the World Junior Girls team crown in Canada last year, at third with a 35-40 card.
Kristine Torralba lay just two shots adrift at 74 while Junia Gabasa and Tomita Arejola put in a pair of 77s and Alex Etter and Pauline Del Rosario stood a shot farther back at 78.
Del Rosario, the former Thailand Ladies Amateur Open champion, struggled early and made the turn with a bogey-riddled 41 before settling down a bit with a 37 while Etter also bounced back from an opening 40 with a 38, spiked by a final hole birdie.