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Suzuki, Handog lead JPGT Pradera pack; Lee dominates

LUBAO, Pampanga – Ryuki Suzuki and Georgina Handog shone in the opening round of the Junior Philippine Golf Tour Luzon Series 2, seizing the lead in the 8-10 age category with 72 and 87, respectively, even as Jiwon Lee scorched the Pradera Verde course with an eagle-spiked 66 in the premier division here on Tuesday, May 28.

Georgina Handog (PGT)

Both Suzuki and Handog navigated the challenging greens with commendable skill with the former rebounding from early setbacks, securing birdies on Nos. 5 and 14 to edge out Jose Luis Espinosa by one stroke with a 37-35.

Espinosa, who led after 12 holes with a two-birdie, one-bogey card, stumbled with a double-bogey on the 16th for a 73, allowing the Splendido Taal leg winner to finish ahead in the 36-hole competition.

Monte Andaman trailed in third with a 92.

“The course is easy but the greens are very fast,” said Suzuki, lamenting a missed birdie putt on the par-5 No. 12, which he reached in two. “I three-putted it, and it’s really disappointing for me.”

Handog, making her debut in the series sponsored by ICTSI, stamped her class in the girls’ side of the youngest division of the three-category event with a 15-over round, nine strokes ahead of first leg winner Maurysse Abalos, who carded a 96.

Despite windy conditions, Handog’s birdie on the first hole set the tone for her round. Although she encountered bogeys, a double bogey and a triple bogey, her 87 established a commanding lead.

“It’s hot but I started out strong and good,” said Handog, demonstrating her readiness for the top spot.

Athalea Espedido carded a 98 for third.

In the girls’ 15-18 class spread over 72 holes, Lee positioned herself for another victory, firing an impressive 66, featuring an eagle and six birdies. Lee’s stellar play granted her a 12-shot lead over Reese Ng, who struggled with a 78, while Lia Duque posted an 82 for third.

“The game plan is to keep the ball in play to get chances for birdies or pars,” said Lee.

Starting at the third nine, she excelled with birdies and an eagle on No. 14, concluding with a remarkable backside 31 with three birdies in the last four holes.

She aims for conservative play in the upcoming rounds of the event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc., focusing on maintaining her lead.

Shinichi Suzuki, on the other hand, debuted in the boys’ 15-18 category with a notable two-under 70, overcoming early challenges to claim a six-stroke lead over Mark Kobayashi, who put in a 76.

Suzuki emphasized consistency in hitting fairways and greens as his strategy moving forward.

“Initially, I struggled to find my rhythm with my shots, especially as the wind picked up during the back nine. Despite these challenges, I maintained consistency by hitting fairways and managing to save par on several holes,” said Suzuki.

In the girls’ 11-14 class, Lisa Sarines wrested control with a 75, four strokes ahead of twin sister Mona and Levonne Talion, who matched 79s, as first leg champion Precious Zaragosa wavered with an 83.

Lisa adapted to the windy conditions, showcasing resilience and strategic play.

Geoffrey Tan, meanwhile, dominated the boys’ 11-14 division with a two-under 70, highlighted by three birdies in the last four holes, establishing a huge 12-shot advantage over Zianbeau Edoc and Aenzo Sulaik, who both shot 84s. First leg winner Vito Sarines carded an 83.

“Navigating his course has been challenging primarily due to the strength of the winds. As a result, I had to club up a lot of times, and calculate all of my shots,” said Tan.

Participants in the 8-10 and 11-14 divisions tackled the first and second nines of the Pradera Verde complex, while those in the premier 15-18 category played the third and second nines, showcasing their talents in the series held as part of JPGT’s mission to cultivate young talent and enhance the sport’s popularity across the country.

Credit belongs to : www.mb.com.ph

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