Trece Martirez, Cavite—Rupert Zaragosa opened chase of the only national title he hasn’t won by shooting a one-under-par 71 yesterday to share a one-stroke lead with Filipino-American Putra Cup recruit Jonathan Delos Reyes after the first round of the Philippine Amateur Closed championship.
The pint-sized 15-year-old fired four birdies against three bogeys like Delos Reyes and the duo paced another Putra Cup ace, Rico Hoey (72), by a shot in the event being presented by the MVP Sports Foundation as part of the PLDT Amateur Tour at Sherwood Hills here.
“Yes, this is a big thing for me,” Zaragosa told the Inquirer moments after signing for a 37-34 card. “I would like to win this one also, but I won’t pressure myself too much in trying to do so.”
Delos Reyes was bombing it off the tees and showed that he, like Hoey, would be valuable additions to the Philippine squad that battles Southeast Asia’s best from June 27 to 30 also over the well-manicured, wind-swept course.
“He is pretty impressive,” Delos Reyes, a 19-year-old born from Filipino parents, said of Zaragosa, the men’s and boy’s match play champion in 2011 and the winner of the PH Am Junior Closed event two weeks ago.
“With the level of talent that we see out here, there’s no doubt that we will have a solid team (for the Putra Cup),” Delos Reyes said. “And over a course like this, anything can still happen in the last three days.”
Hoey was also impressive, recovering from stumbles in the first four holes of the back nine with what could go down as the best two shots of the first round of the event also backed by Pancake House, Nike, Golf Depot and Pacsports.
Needing a birdie in the last hole to salvage that 72, Hoey hit 3-wood off the 18th tee and left himself with just 120 yards over the 462-yard hole—a drive of 342 yards—for a 54-degree approach that settled just two feet from the cup.
“I had some great shots and had some bad ones, too,” the 17-year-old Hoey said after signing for a double bogey 6 on the 10th, a bogey in the next and another bogey in the par-4 13th.
Lefty Andres Saldaña returned a 73 and was two shots off with Justin Quiban, JP De Claro and Cebu’s Lloyd Jefferson Go assembling 75s to remain well within the mix.
Bianca Pagdanganan opened up with a 74 and took a surprise one-stroke lead over Sophia Chabon in women’s play even as Simone Hoey, Rico’s elder sister, couldn’t get it going and submitted a 79.