GEN. TRIAS, Cavite – Malaysian Alvin Hiew checked an impending frontside skid with a clutch birdie on the seventh to salvage a second straight 71, then later watched Jobim Carlos fumble with a bogey on the 18th to snatch a one-stroke lead halfway through the 2015 Philippine Amateur Stroke Play Championship at the Eagle Ridge Golf and Country Club here Wednesday.
Hiew, winner of the 17-18 crown in the World Masters in Las Vegas last year, took advantage of an early start and hit two birdies against a bogey at the back then bucked a two-over card after four holes at the front with that eight-foot birdie on the par-5 No. 7 to churn out another one-under par round at the Aoki layout.
With a 142 aggregate, the 17-year-old Hiew stormed past first round leader Rupert Zaragosa, who wavered with a 76 and slid to third at 144, and recent Philippine Golf Tour Q-School topnotcher Carlos, who missed sharing the lead with a final hole mishap for a 73 and a 143.
Hiew rolled in a 10-footer on No. 10 then drilled in another from about the same distance on the 18th to negate a missed-green bogey miscue on No. 14. Bogeys on Nos. 2 and 4, however, slowed down the young Malaysian, who toughened up in the closing holes with gutsy pars and a birdie for that 36.
Zaragosa, who shot an impressive 68 Tuesday, also wavered coming home at the front marred by a bogey-par-double-bogey-bogey start and ended up 76, dropping to third at 144 with 36 holes to play in the annual event kicking off this year’s PLDT Group National Amateur Golf Tour.
Marc Ong matched Hiew’s 71 to move to solo fourth at 145 while Aidric Chan carded a 74 for a 148 and Raymond Gonzales lay a stroke farther back at 149 after a 73.
Club bet Dan Cruz sputtered with a 77 and reeled back with a 150 but defending champion LJ Go of Cebu struck back from a 77 with a 73 to tie club bet Dan Cruz, who wavered with a 77, and JP de Claro, who fought back with a 71 after a 79.
“I need to work on my game around the green. I can’t hit the sweet spot on my chips,” said Carlos, hoping to nail the big one in the ranks before joining the pro ranks next month.
Zaragosa, meanwhile, will have a lot of catching up to do after blowing a two-stroke lead over Carlos with a disastrous 39-37 card, hitting his lone birdie on No. 8 from three feet as he groped for his putting touch all day.
“I can’t seem to read the right allowance (for my putts),” rued Zaragosa, who sizzled with seven birdies against three bogeys in the opener of the 72-hole championship sponsored by the MVP Sports Foundation, PLDT Group and B Hotel in Alabang and organized and conducted by the National Golf Association of the Philippines.
Samantha Bruce shot a 73 to tie Korean Hwang Min Jeong, who fumbled with a 77, for the lead at 148 in women’s play with erstwhile joint leader Felicia Medalla falling behind by one at 149 after a 78 in a tie with Thai Manuchaya Zeemakorn and Louise Kaye Go, who both moved into contention with 72s.