Young Sean Ramos took charge in brutal conditions, snatching a one-stroke lead over Carlo Villaroman and Korean Kim Tae Soo despite a birdie-less four-over 75 at the start of the Riviera MVPSF Amateur Championship at Riviera’s Langer course in Silang, Cavite.
Ramos, 14, bucked a double-bogey on No. 9 and two bogeys at the back with an early run of pars to emerge on top of the field that all came in tangled by the howling wind that blew from all over, all day yesterday, putting the Orchard bet on track for a crack at a third straight crown.
Cebu’s Junia Gabasa charged back with two birdies at the back to save a 72 and seize a two-stroke lead over Bernice Olivarez-Ilas with Mariel Tee two strokes farther back at 76 in women’s play of the 54-hole championship presented by the MVP Sports Foundation and serving as part of the PLDT Golf National Amateur Tour.
Ilas grabbed the early lead with a 36 but wavered at the back with a 38 for a 74, enabling Gabasa to rally with birdies on Nos. 11 and 14 with Tee also hobbling in the last nine holes.
Sofia Chabon, Sam Dizon and Rianne Malixi all carded 77s while Korean Kang Da Yun shot a 79 and Kristine Torralba, Eagle Ace Superal and defending champion Sofia Legaspi limping with identical 80s to fall eight strokes off Gabasa.
Ramos, a Grade 9 rising star from La Salle, kept his cool in exacting condition and kept the lead despite dropping two more strokes on missed green bogeys in the last nine holes.
“I had a good round but missed five makeable birdie chances. I tried to be more patient since the course condition is tough,” said Ramos, who came through with clutch iron shots and putts to run off eight straight pars but drove into the wind and into the hazard on No. 9, hit the bunker and ended up with a 6.
Villaroman birdied the overlooking par-3 No. 17 but like Ramos, he holed out with a bogey to settle for joint second with Kim at 76 while Aidric Chan blew a 37 start with four bogeys in the tougher backside of the hazard-laden layout and fell to joint fourth with three others at 77.
Kim matched Ramos’ frontside 37 and hit two birdies at the back but dropped three strokes on the par-4 No. 14 and double-bogeyed the 18th while Cebu’s Weiyu Gao strung up a 38-39 card, Lanz Uy carded a 39-38 and Miguel Olivarez-Ilas made a 37-40 to join Chan with six-over cards.
Jung Jae Hyun, another Korean, rallied with a 38 for a 78, the same output put in by Jacob Rolida while Josh Jorge and reigning Phl Amateur Open Match Play champion Carl Corpus turned in identical 79s to stay in the hunt heading to the last 36 holes of the event organized and conducted by the National Golf Association of the Philippines and sponsored by Cignal and Metro Pacific Investments.
Ramos, chasing a third straight championship after a wire-to-wire triumph at Cangolf Am Open and at the NGAP Northern Luzon Regional at Beverly Place Golf Club in Pampanga, came through with clutch iron shots and putts to run off eight straight pars but drove into the wind and into the hazard on No. 9, hit the bunker and ended up with a 6.
It was also a sorry finish for Kim and Villaroman, who both had cracks at the lead with the Korean fighting back from a double-bogey start, a bogey on No. 4 and a late triple bogey with three birdies, only to yield the lead with a double-bogey finish.
Despite his last-hole bogey, Villaroman relished one of his strongest starts in a big tournament with the son of the former world junior champion hoping to put in a stronger stint in the last 36 holes.
Meanwhile, action in the 36-hole Mid-Amateur and Seniors divisions along with the Special Division for boys’ and girls’ aged 12-years-old and below starts today with the field also bracing for high scoring given the playing condition on one of the country’s toughest championship courses.
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