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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Easy wins for Espinosa, Macasaet

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BAGUIO—Jose Luis Espinosa and Brianna Macasaet turned the final round of their 36-hole competition into a triumphant march, capitalizing on the cool breeze to cruise to victories in the 8-10 category of the Junior Philippine Golf Tour Luzon Series 3 at the Pinewoods Golf and Country Club here Tuesday.

Both led by wide margins after the first round and faced little pressure in the final 18 holes although the duo continued to deliver their best performances, maintaining their form in preparation for future campaigns.

“I think I played my best,” said the 10-year-old Espinosa, who closed with an 87, finishing 23 strokes ahead with a 175 total, far surpassing Zoji Edoc, who assembled a 198 after 100. Kevin Tecson placed third with a 201 after 105 in the youngest category of the three-division series organized by Pilipinas Golf tournaments, Inc.

Espinosa, who led Tecson by 8 after the first 18 holes, played pressure-free as his competitors struggled on the demanding course, which tests every aspect of a player’s game.

“It’s a good experience playing in JPGT. With a happy mindset, I think I’ll do better in the next tournaments,” added Espinosa, who credited his supportive parents and coaches for his success.

Macasaet won her debut in the ICTSI-sponsored series by demonstrating remarkable consistency on a challenging layout, claiming a 16-stroke victory with back-to-back rounds of 81 for a 162 total.

Pradera Verde leg winner Georgina Handog rallied with an 83, highlighted by an eagle-3 on the 10th hole, to finish second with a 178, while Casedy Cuenca placed third overall with a 189 after a 96.

“I’m proud of my game. This is fun. I got to improve on my skills by playing on a challenging course with many turns and bunkers. It’s so adventurous,” said Macasaet, who relied on her long game and excellent pitching to dominate the field.

In the 15-18 category, Rafa Anciano surged to a three-stroke lead in the girls’ division with a 179 after an 87, thanks to a pivotal birdie on the last hole, the par-3 No. 9, for a huge three-shot swing.

Montserrat Lapuz, initially tied with Anciano, slipped to second place after a double-bogey on the ninth for a 92 and a 182, while Chloe Rada made it a three-way contest with a 183 after an 89.

Anciano credited improvements in her short game and putting, emphasizing her caddy’s role in reading the sidehill birdie putt on the last hole from an elevated mound. With a better understanding of the demanding layout gained over the past two days, she expressed confidence in her approach for the upcoming rounds, saying: “I know the course better now and feel prepared to tackle its challenges.”

Tristan Padilla, on the other hand, led the premier boys’ division despite a 78 for a 150 but Charles Serdenia and Mark Kobayashi followed closely with 152 and 155 after 75 and 76, respectively.

Reflecting on his round, Padilla acknowledged the need to improve shot placement and expressed frustration with his quadruple bogey on the par-5 No. 7.

“I need to place my shots a little better in the next two days. It got a bit windy towards the end, but my errors were the bigger issue,” said Padilla, referring on his 9 on the seventh hole, where he dumped his second shot into the left-side bunker and misfired, sending the ball out of bounds.

He also rued his shaky putting, saying: “My driving and irons were good, but I struggled with my putting throughout the entire round.”

Meanwhile, Serdenia pressed his bid for a second JPGT crown after a come-from-behind win at Splendido, charging back with a 35 to save a three-over card for an eight-over total overall, just two strokes off the two-day leader with 36 holes left to play.

“I hope I can still improve on my long and short game and sustain my form to score better,” said Serdenia, who is preparing for next month’s Junior World in San Diego. He shot four birdies against three bogeys and two double bogeys.

Ramon Fabie moved to fourth with an 83 for a 167, while Gabriel Handog pooled a 169, also after an 83.

In the girls’ 11-14 division, Mona Sarines bucked a sprained ankle to card a 77 for a 155, wresting a two-stroke lead from first round co-leader and twin sister, Lisa, who faltered with a 79 for a 157.

Levonne Talion also made a 79 for a 158, while Splendido leg titlist Precious Zaragosa pooled a 159 after a 77.

“I slipped on No. 10 yesterday (Monday) and sprained my ankle. It was tough because the swelling caused a lot of pain. My dad bandaged it, but I had to adjust my swing and couldn’t follow through properly. Still, I managed,” said Mona.

Her goal for the final round was to stay focused and be extra cautious.

Vito Sarines hung tough in the boys’ 11-14 division with a second straight 82 for a 164, holding off a charging Zianbeau Edoc, who carded an 80 to close in at 165. Javier Bautista fumbled with an 86 to slip to third at 169.

Emphasizing the importance of good course management, Vito mentioned his goal of scoring a six-over in the final 18 holes to secure another victory in the series and bolster his bid for a spot in the JPGT Match Play Championship at The Country Club in October.

Ranking points are awarded in each leg of the series, with the top four players in the boys’ and girls’ divisions after the seven-leg Luzon swing qualifying for the head-to-head finale.

Supported by PGTI official apparel Kampfortis Golf, the series also features three legs in the Visayas and four in Mindanao, with the top players advancing to the Match Play finals.

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