GEN. TRIAS, Cavite – Rupert Zaragosa put on a strong start and a stronger finish to shoot a four-under 68 and wrest a two-stroke lead over fancied Jobim Carlos at the start of the 2015 Philippine Amateur Stroke Play Championship at the Eagle Ridge Golf and Country Club here Tuesday.
Zaragosa, the reigning national junior champion, bucked the wind and the lightning-fast greens of the Aoki layout to produce seven birdies and seize control of the formidable international field in the season-opening event of this year’s PLDT Group National Amateur Golf Tour.
The 17-year-old Zaragosa went to work early, birdying the opening hole from four feet then came through with a birdie-blast on No. 6 that sparked a three-birdie binge. A three-putt miscue slowed him down on No. 11 but he birdied the next to remain at four-under.
The top Lyceum bet, however, fumbled with another three-putt mishap after missing the par-3 No. 13 but made up for his double-bogey misfortune with back-to-back birdies from No. 14 inside 10 feet.
“My birdie-blast from about 25 yards on No. 6 boosted my confidence. But if not for those three putts, I could’ve easily made a 66 on a very tough scoring day,” said Zaragosa.
The pro-bound Carlos, who came from behind to rule the Philippine Golf Tour Qualifying Tour here last month, put himself in early contention although he had to survived a rollercoaster round to fashion out a two-under 70 in the event sponsored by the MVP Sports Foundation, PLDT Group and B Hotel in Alabang.
Carlos closed out with a three-foot birdie putt on the 18th to cap a four-birdie stint that negated his two bogeys after going out of regulation.
“The wind blew hard after three holes and it slightly affected the field, including me,” said Carlos, on vacation from University of San Francisco in the US. “But it was not that as strong when I topped the PGT Q-School two weeks ago.”
Still, it was enough to baffle the field with defending champion LJ Go, who beat Carlos by 11 to win the event at Wack Wack last year, limping home with a five-over 77 with five bogeys at the back for six miscues overall against a lone birdie.
Malaysian Alvin Hiew fired a 71 to lead the foreign challenge while unheralded Don Petil signed for an even par 72, local club bet Dan Emilio Cruz turned in a 73 and Jelbert Gamolo, Zaragosa’s teammate at Lyceum, carded a 74 in a tie with Singapore’s Marc Ong.
Meanwhile, Felicia Medalla shot a 71 to share the girls’ lead with Korean Hwang Min-jeong with Miya Legaspi two strokes adrift at 73.
Another Korean Lee Hyong Hyun and Nur Durriyah Damian of Malaysia made identical 74s for joint fourth in the event organized and conducted by the National Golf Association of the Philippines.