Gabriel Manotoc battled extreme heat and played Sherwood Hills’ sleek and hard greens smartly yesterday to shoot a level 72 and take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the NGAP’s Philippine Junior Amateur Open golf championship in Trece Martirez, Cavite.
The 15-year-old from Inter-Scholastics champion Beacon Academy gunned down two birdies against the same number of bogeys and was left at the top after Rupert Zaragosa signed for an uncharacteristic triple bogey 7 on the 18th in the event presented by the MVP Sports Foundation as part of the PLDT Group Amateur Tour.
Manotoc missed just three greens all round but flubbed several chances of going lower because of difficult pin placements even as Beacon teammate Basti Lorenzo, another talented 15-year-old, fired a 75 to be three down.
“I hit it well all day,” Manotoc, the youngest son of NGAP president Tommy Manotoc, said. “I just couldn’t putt. The greens were hard and if you put your approach in the wrong sides, you can’t go for birdies.”
Zaragosa, the favoured, former World Junior champion, was holding the solo lead until he went to the 18th. The pint-sized wonder hooked his drive and gambled going for the green on his second shot in thick rough only to find the large lagoon.
Meanwhile, Pauleen Del Rosario churned out a 73 to set the pace in the girls’ side of the event being presented by Pancake House, Nike, Golf Depot, Pacsports and Microtel Cavite as the official residence of the foreign delegates.
Nur Eliana Arrifin of Malaysia and Princess Superal were tied for second after 74s with the young Abegail Arevalo, the newest recruit of ICTSI, firing a 75 like the seasoned Daniella Uy to be just two shots off the pace.
Defending champion Pamela Mariano, a product of the Frankie Minoza Foundation in Bukidnon, struggled to a 78, even as Park Eun-che of Korea was the second foreigner in the top 10 after shooting a 77.
Thomas Tan of Singapore was the best-placed foreigner in the boys’ side after firing a 76 like Raymart Tolentino, Ryan Monsalve and Korean expat Min Ung-park, with Ervin Chang of Malaysia returned a 77 to be another shot back like Lanz Uy.(pr)