Zaragosa outduels Kim in shootout, keeps DHL crown

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CANLUBANG – Rupert Zaragosa went on a birdie-binge at the back to cool down a hot-starting Brian Kim and complete a back-to-back title romp in the WExpress-DHL RVF Cup Amateur Golf Championship, winning by three on a closing 69 at Cangolf’s North course here Friday.

Unruffled by Kim’s fiery charge of four straight birdies to close out the frontside, Zaragosa countered with his own four-birdie spree from No. 10 then came through with a couple of clutch par putts to frustrate his Korean rival and keep the crown he won in come-from-behind fashion last year.

“I knew he would catch up at some point. But it did not bother me,” said Zaragosa, who wound up with a 13-under 275.

That was three-shots better than Kim, who trailed by four after 54 holes and fell by five after a bogey on No. 4. But he pulled to within one on a stirring four-birdie string from No. 6 for a 34 as Zaragosa fumbled with a 37.

Kim actually stretched that birdie run to five but by that time, Zaragosa has regained his bearing and rhythm, matching his rival’s birdie on No. 10. The Filipino ace then rattled off three straight to outgun Kim, who also birdied No. 12, and regain a three-stroke lead en route to victory.

Kim moved to within two again with another birdie on No. 14 but dropped a stroke instead while trying to make the most of the par-5 17th. He finished with a pair of 34s for a 278.

“I am very much at home and that birdie on No. 10 was all I needed,” added Zaragosa.

Park Min Ung lost his way while watching the Zaragosa-Kim shootout, finishing with a 76 for third at 288 while Southwoods’ Justin Quiban placed fourth at 289 after a 73 and Japanese Yuma Ohno rallied with a 69 to salvage fifth at 291 in the event sponsored by WExpress and DHL and held as part of the PLDT Group’s National Amateur Golf Tour.

Aniceto Mandanas fired a 70 to tie Korean Choi Bum Jun (71), Raymart Tolentino (72) and Ji Hyok Chung (76), also of Korea, at sixth at 295 Jelbert Gamolo (73), Ira Alido (73), Kristoffer Arevalo (75) and Alta Vista’s Wei Wei Gao (74) all pooled 298s.

First-timer Choi Ye-rim of Korea also posted a three-shot win in the ladies side of the event organized and conducted by the National Golf Association of the Philippines, matching par 72 for a 210 total.

Bianca Pagdanganan also carded a 72 and snatched runner-up honors at 213 while Felicia Medalla struggled with a 75 for third at 221. Annika Cedo settled for fourth at 223 after a 77 while Korean Hwang Min Jeong fought back with a 71 to finish fifth at 224.

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