Gaston cards 73, leads RP seniors by 1

Former champion Francis Gaston carded a one-over 73 and fended off Iggy Clavecilla’s backnine surge to post a one-stroke lead at the start of the Philippine Senior Amateur Golf Championship at the Mt. Malarayat Golf and Country Club in Lipa City, Batangas, June 16.

Gaston knocked down three birdies against four bogeys, including on No. 18 that enabled Clavecilla and Rolly Viray to close in heading into the second round of the 54-hole championship among the country’s golfing elders.

Gaston and Viray actually tied for the lead after 11 holes with identical 36s but the former birdied the par-3 11th to surge ahead with the Canlubang bet reeling with bogey on No. 16 for a 74.

Clavecilla fell by as many as three shots as he struggled early at the composite Mt. Malipunyo-Lobo courses with an opening 39. But the reigning four-peat champion rebounded with back-to-back birdies from No. 13 to wheel back into contention in the centerpiece Open division with a 74.

Tony Olives and Tomas Joson turned in identical four-over 76s for joint fourth while Florene delos Santos and Richie Garcia stood a stroke farther back with 77s.

Bryan Cockrell, meanwhile, leaned on a solid frontside stint and shot a 75 to grab a three-shot lead over Edgar Villamor in Category II (60-64) of the tournament organized and conducted by the National Golf Association of the Philippines. Villamor had two 39s for a 78 while Noli Macasaet carded an 81 for third.

Mario Lugay, on other hand, showed the way in Category III (65-69) with a 78, seizing a two-shot lead over Ben Liclican, who had an 80, while Danilo Pizarro wavered with an 84 to drop to joint third with Rudy Gamot.

Cesar Castro turned in an 81 to wrest a one-stroke lead over Danny Sarmiento (82) in the Super Senior I division (70-74) with Peter Shanks and Richard Heideman staying within striking distance with 84 and 86, respectively, going into the final 18 holes tomorrow (Friday).

Jun Galindez shot an 89 and took a whopping six-stroke lead over Charles Robertson (95) in the Super Senior II (75-and-above) class as Enrique Beech sputtered with a 106.

Trophies, courtesy of Jonathan Cruz of I-Golf Club Trading, are at stake in all categories while fabulous prizes will be raffled off during the awards rites tomorrow, according to NGAP tournament committee chair Pablo Soon.(pr)

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