Wolen Superal, out of the limelight for a long time after a career-threatening hip injury, upstaged the big guns in a late flight yesterday, shooting an even-par 72 to grab a one-shot lead after the first round of the MVP Sports Foundation-Philippine Amateur Open championship.
Superal, who had hip surgery a couple of years back, gunned down five birdies against the same number of bogeys at the demanding Wack Wack East course and slipped ahead of Rupert Zaragosa and Korean expatriate Jong Sang-in by a shot.
The surprise frontrunner, the son of a former pro, actually opened with a bogey but rammed in three of his five birdies in the next eight holes for a 34.
Keeping his cool after a bad start, Zaragosa closed out with a flurry to rescue a 73 and tie Jong for second in the event serving as the first leg of the NGAP-PLDT Group Philippine Amateur Tour.
The pint-sized Zaragosa scored the only birdie on the 18th hole to cap a birdie-birdie finish even as Jong finished the exact opposite after signing for a 6 on the closing par-4 hole.
It was a sizzling finish for Zaragosa, a high school junior at Don Bosco Canlubang, as he fought back from a four-over card after 12 holes, even as the other main local hope, Jobim Carlos, struggled off the tees all day and shot an uncharacteristic 82.
Carlos had two double bogeys and acknowledged that he would need a really big round today to be a factor in the final two days.
“I had perfect lies for my approaches in the last two holes and just went for it,” said Zaragosa, the 2010 match play champion over the same course.
Jong, a teener playing out of The Riviera in Silang, Cavite, took four shots to find the 18th green for a double bogey 6.
Basti Lorenzo, a 15-year-old using a new putter for the second time, Marvin Mendoza and Camp Aguinaldo bet Raymart Tolentino fired 74s in the 72-hole event also backed by Pancake House, Titleist, Golf Depot, Pacsports and Autohub, the official transport service provider for the foreign delegates.
The leading scores (Filipino unless stated): 72—W. Superal 34-38; 73—R. Zaragosa 39-34, JS-In (Kor) 37-36; 74—M. Mendoza 36-38, R. Tolentino 36-38, B. Lorenzo 36-38; 75—G. Nagai 41-34, J. Austria 35-40, 76—M. Razif (Mal) 41-35, A. Saldana 39-37, E. Tan 35-41; 77—G. Foo (Sin) 39-38, C. Popp 37-40; 78—L. Celestino 39-39, J, Ng (Sin) 36-42; 79—A. De Jesus 40-39, R. Talud 40-39, J. Abdon 39-40, M. Dy 39-40, D. Petil 39-40