BAGUIO , Philippines – Lawrence Celestino fended off Lloyd Jefferson Go’s backside rally with clutch putts, including a gutsy par on the final hole to shoot a five-over 66 and seal a two-shot victory in the Philex Northern Luzon Regional Championships at the Baguio Golf and Country Club here yesterday.
The 20-year-old Celestino from Eagle Ridge, who surged ahead by two after two rounds and went four-up at the turn, birdied No. 13 to hold off a charging Go then parred four of the last five holes to match his rival’s closing 66 for a 54-hole aggregate of 194.
Go moved within one at the back twice, the last at No. 17 with a par coupled with Celestino’s bogey. But he went for broke in the final hole and ended up heartbroken with a bogey, finishing with a 196 after a 66, in the event presented by top mining corporation Philex and sponsored by Pancake House, Titleist by Empire Golf, Pacsports and Golf Depot.
Gabriel Manotoc, the 15-year-old find who sparked hopes of a breakthrough win in a men’s tournament when he joined Go in second heading to the final 18 holes with two 65s, wavered with three bogeys at the shorter but tougher backside of the BGCC, ending up with a 31 and 67 for third at 197.
US-based jungolfers RJ Talud and Raymond Gonzales Jr. took the next two spots with 200 and 204, respectively, after identical 68s while Jan Philippe De Claro shot the tournament-best one-over 62 for a 205 as he jumped from out of nowhere to solo sixth place in the tournament sanctioned by the National Golf Association of the Phils. and served as part of the Globe Amateur Golf Circuit.
Celestino, the Cavite-based shotmaker who won the fifth Faldo Series Philippines Championship at Tat Filipinas this year, threatened to pull away after storming to a four-shot lead with a 35 at the turn as Go struggled with a 37 and Manotoc settled for a 36. But Go, one of the rising stars from Cebu, gained a two-shot swing on the 12th with a birdie to close to within one.
Celestino, however, fought back with his own birdie on the next to go 2-up again only to hole out with another bogey on the 17th and allow Go to move within a shot again.
Daniella Uy dominated the ladies’ side as she matched par 61 for a 36-hole aggregate of 129, 11 shots ahead of Bianca Pagdanganan, who had a 140 after a 67. Dana Gonzales wound up third with a 73 and a 145 in the event held as part of the birth centenary of BGCC founder Nanoy Ilusorio.
Felix Pascual also carded a 66 and ran away with the Mid-Amateur crown with a 36-hole total of 132 for a seven-shot romp over Manny Solis, who had a 139 after a 71 while Rafael Ding took third place with a 74 and a 144.
Fred Puckett likewise cruised to seniors victory with a 136 after a 66 for a whopping 22-stroke victory over Mariano Ang, who had an 80 for a 158 while Johnny Fagyan placed third with a 184 after a 94.