KOREAN Gwon Min Wook kept his mastery of Langer’s feared backside and closed out with a second two-under 34 to save a 73 as he pulled away by seven over new pursuers Aidric Chan and Weiwei Gao halfway through the National Stroke Play Championship at the Riviera Golf and Country Club in Silang, Cavite yesterday.
But Lois Kaye Go failed to sustain an impressive 68 start Tuesday and blew a huge five-stroke lead with a horrible frontside 42 in overcast skies and windy conditions. She hardly recovered her rhythm and bearing at the back and hobbled home with a 40 for an 82 that dropped her to joint third and enabled young Rianne Malixi to seize control with a 70 in women’s play.
Gwon, 17, who matched Go’s opening three-under card to take charge by two over Ryan Monsalve in the premier men’s division of the kickoff leg of this year’s PLDT Group National Amateur Golf Tour season, actually reeled back with a bogey-triple-bogey mishap from No. 7 but regrouped and birdied the first four holes at the back in stirring fashion to stay in firm control in a rain-hit day.
But he slowed down with two bogeys in the last five for that 39-34 and a 36-hole total of 141, seven shots ahead of Chan and Gao, who pooled identical 148s after 71 and 75, respectively, even as Monsalve never recovered from a bogey-bogey start and stumbled with a 79 to fall to solo fourth at 149.
“It was very hard today,” said Wook, referring to his triple bogey on the par-3 No. 8 off an errant tee-shot into the deep roughs, where he needed two shots to get to the green before missing a short putt for double-bogey.
But he recovered big at the back, bucking tough pin placements to birdie the 10th and 11th inside four feet. He then chipped in for another birdie from 10 yards on the next before drilling a 15-footer for another birdie on No. 13.
Carl Corpus carded a 75 for 150 while Japanese Atsushi Ueda and Kyosuke Yoshida moved to joint sixth at 151 after 75 and 77, respectively, and Elee Bisera also shot a 75 for joint eighth at 153 with Sean Ramos, who wobbled with a 79.
Japanese Gen Nagai also failed to rebound and hobbled with a second six-over 77, virtually kissing his title-retention bid goodbye with a 154, 13 strokes behind Gwon heading to the last 36 holes of the tournament organized and conducted by the National Golf Association of the Philippines.
Other 154 scorers were Kim Tae Soo and Leandro Bagtas, who skied with identical 79s.
Malixi, 12, firmed up her bid for another championship after winning three last year as she likewise defied the odds to shoot a 70 and grab the lead at 143, two up on Abby Arevalo, who improved from a 73 with a 72 for a 145.
Malixi, who highlighted her prolific 2019 season by winning the Phl Junior Amateur Open (stroke play) while playing in a lower age-group division, gunned down five birdies against four bogeys, the last on the 18th, that foiled her bid to post a bigger lead over Arevalo, who hit a pitch-in eagle on the par-4 15th to anchor her comeback bid and fuel her drive for another title at Riviera after humbling the pros in the Ladies Phl Golf Tour in 2017.
Nicole Abelar bounced back from a 78 with a 72 but lay seven strokes behind at 150 in a tie with Laurea Duque, who submitted a 76, and Go.
Member of the Asian Games and SEAG gold medal winning squads, Go actually birdied No. 1 to pad her lead to six but bogeyed the next two, dropped two strokes on the par-3 No. 4, bogeyed two of the next three and double bogeyed No. 8.
Misfortunes continued to hound the Cebuana ace at the back as she made another double bogey on the 10th and closed out with two more bogeys in the last three holes for a birdie-less 42-40.
Samantha Martirez also floundered with a 78 and slipped to sixth at 151 while Junia Gabasa and Korean Kim Seo Yun assembled identical 154s after 75 and 80, respectively, and Bernice Ilas fumbled with an 81 for a 156 and virtually bowed out of the race in the event sponsored by the MVP Sports Foundation and backed by Cignal, Metro Pacific Investments and Summit Ridge as official hotel.