Go, Wong take lead with 68S in 1st rd

LOIS Kaye Go sizzled on a frontside finish while Korean Wook Gwon Min banked on a superb backside start as they shot identical three-under 68s to wrest control in the first round of the National Stroke Play Championship at Riviera’s Langer course in Silang, Cavite on Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020.

Go kept her good form going coming off a Southeast Asian (SEA) Games stint, anchoring her strong start on superb putting, her birdies on Nos. 6 and 7 netting her a 33-35 round that featured three other birdies against two bogeys at the back.

She stood five shots clear off Samantha Martirez and two others in the women’s side, humbling the likes of LPGA Tour-bound and SEA Games gold medalist Bianca Pagdanganan and world No. 1 Atthaya Thitikul of Thailand last year.

Junia Gabasa, another talent from Cebu, carded a 74 for joint fifth with Laurea Duque while Bernice Ilas shot a 75 and Samantha Dizon and Korean Bang Hee Yeon shared eighth place with 77s.

“I feel really contented with my game and I thought I played pretty solid,” said Go, member of the Asian Games and Sea Games gold medal winning teams. “I made a couple of mistakes but recovered well with birdies. The key to my game was putting. I made putts from 15 to 20 feet and was able to save par when I needed to.”

Martirez matched the Cebuana ace’s 35 start but dropped three strokes in the first three holes at the front, including a double-bogey on No. 2, finishing with a 38 for a 73 in a tie with Abby Arevalo, teammate of Pagdanganan and Go in the SEA Games squad, who also stumbled with a closing 38, and young Rianne Malixi, who rallied with a 35.

In the men’s side, Wook thrived in the privacy of an early morning tee-off, birdying two of the last three then bucked a bogey on the second hole with birdies on Nos. 6 and 9 to gain a two-stroke lead over Ryan Monsalve in men’s play of the 72-hole championship.

Monsalve also tamed the tough backside of the par-71 layout with a 34 but missed forcing a tie with the Korean with a double bogey mishap on No. 7 for a 70.

The rest, including defending champion Gen Nagai and national team mainstays Carl Corpus and Aidric Chan, struggled as the wind whipped up at noon with Cebu’s Weiwei Gao fumbling with a 73 for third.

Nagai groped with his short game and never recovered from a three-bogey, one double bogey card at the front, limping with a 77 to fall behind by nine; while Corpus hobbled with a 75 for joint sixth with Leandro Bagtas and Korean Kim Tae Soo.

Chan, who spearhead the bronze medal SEA Games squad that included Ramos, Corpus and absentee Luis Castro, stayed in the early mix with a frontside 36. But last year’s Junior World titlist got undone by a quadruple bogey on the par-4 11th, ending up in joint 12th with Nagai, Miguel Ilas, Santino Laurel and Korea Hur Jun Ha.

Ryuya Yamashita and fellow Japanese Atsushi Ueda and Cebu’s Peter Tyler Po shot identical 76s for joint ninth in the event sponsored by the MVP Sports Foundation. (RSC from PR)