MANILA, Philippines - Andres Saldaña put on a strong start to shoot a four-under 68 and open a four-stroke lead over fancied Rupert Zaragosa and three others in the first round of the 19th WWWExpress-DHL RVF Amateur Golf Championship presented by the MVP Sports Foundation at Canlubang’s North course in Laguna yesterday.
Saldaña, the pro-bound mainstay of the Alabang Country Club in next week’s PAL Interclub in Bacolod, bucked tough pin placements with solid shotmaking and super putting as he came through with five birdies to negate his lone bogey mishap on No. 16 and seize early control in the 72-hole championship.
Zaragosa, chasing his first-ever WWWExpress-DHL crown, fought back from a three-over card with some brilliant play at the back to salvage a 72 and tie John Kier Abdon, reigning Junior World 13-14 champion Kristoffer Arevalo and Del Monte’s Mel Cubillo for second in the event serving as part of the PLDT Group Amateur Tour.
“I suffered some bad breaks out there today,” said Zaragosa. “There’s still a lot of golf left. But that 68 (by Saldaña) was something special considering the pin placements today.”
Abdon opened with birdie-birdie-bogey-birdie feat but failed to sustain the charge, limping off with a double bogey 7 on the ninth to drop to Zaragosa’s group.
Cubillo, also priming up for the Interclub with his Del Monte teammates, carded nines of 36-36 even as Korean expat Jung Tae-yang hobbled with a 74 to tie Magno Arancon and Raymart Tolentino, six strokes off Saldaña.
Meanwhile, action in the ladies divisions begins today with members of Team ICTSI, led by Pauline del Rosario and Abegail Arevalo, tipped to dominate the 54-hole tournament backed by Pancake House, Golf Depot and Pacsports.
Gen Nagai, the Japanese national who will try to help Cebu Country Club win the Interclub for the third straight year at the Marapara and Binitin layouts starting next Wednesday, made a 75 in a tie with four others.
Justin Quiban, the newest member of the national team, struggled with a 77 marred by a triple bogey 7 on No. 4 and a double bogey 6 on the seventh.
Other five-over par scorers were Alabang’s Gabriel Manotoc and Del Monte’s Leonard Lofranco.