CANLUBANG – Brian Kim (Kim In-jae) rode on a fiery four-birdie binge from No. 6 to match Rupert Zaragosa’s bogey-free four-under 68 and hold on to a one-stroke lead halfway through the 20th WWWExpress-DHL RVF Cup Amateur Golf Championship at Cangolf’s North course here Wednesday.
The 27-year-old Kim gunned down six birdies at the front and nine in all under calm condition but had his share of misfortunes at the back, including three straight bogeys from No. 11. But the Korean bet from Eagle Ridge, who won the Cangolf Am crown here in 2012 and took charge with a 70 Tuesday, birdied the par-5 17th to finish with a 31-37 for a 36-hole haul of 138.
“My game was pretty much okay except for those bogeys at the back,” said Kim, who birdied Nos. 2 and 3, bogeyed No. 5 before birdying the next four.
Zaragosa fell by as many as five shots off Kim with a mediocre 35 at the back but the diminutive defending champion moved in with back-to-back birdies from No. 1 then rolled in another birdie from four feet on the eighth for a 33-68 for a 139.
“The course set-up was perfect for good scores and I was able to capitalize,” said Zaragosa, who came from behind to nip now pro Andres Saldana in last year’s finale of this event held in honor of former NGAP head and DHL president Rod Feliciano.
Korean Park Min Ung, who matched Zaragosa’s opening 70, outshot the Filipino ace with a 34 at the back but settled for just one birdie coming home a 69, dropping a shot farther back at third with a 140.
Justin Quiban, a member of the Fil-Am golf champion team Southwoods, eagled the 17th and wound up with a sizzling 32 and a 69, taking solo fourth at 142, four strokes off Kim with 36 holes left in the event sponsored by WWWExpress and DHL and held as part of the PLDT Group’s National Amateur Golf Tour.
Another Korean, Choi Ve-rim dominated the opener of the 54-hole women’s play as she fired seven birdies to negate a double-bogey mishap on No. 17 for a 67, five shots ahead of local bet Bianca Pagdanganan of Aguinaldo and Wack Wack’s Felicia Medalla.
Choi put on a fiery start of 31, highlighted by three straight birdies from No. 6, then birdied Nos. 14 and 15 from long range to cushion the impact of her double-bogey mishap on the 17th.
But her 67 put her way out in front of Pagdanganan and Medalla, who turned in a pair of 36-36 for 72s while Annika Cedo and Harmie Constantino carded identical 74s and Kayla Nocum salvaged a 75 in the event organized and conducted by the National Golf Association of the Philippines.
In men’s play, Raymart Tolentino also joined the under-par spree with a 69 for joint fifth with Korean Ji Hyok Chung, who shot a 70, at 146 while GJ Katigbak and Kristoffer Arevalo took the next two spots at 147 and 148 after a 72 and 69, respectively.
Korea Choi Bum Jun also made a 68 to tie Filipino Carlo Villaroman, who matched par 72, at nine with 149s.