For Jerome Ng, it was a case of double happiness.
After calling a penalty on himself for an infraction he wasn’t sure he committed, Ng played the rest of the final round of the MVP Sports Foundation Philippine Amateur Open golf championship guilt-free and was rewarded with a two-shot victory.
The athletically-fit 24-year-old fired a 3-over-par 75 at Wack Wack’s East layout even after a two-shot penalty he slapped on himself for a greenside bunker violation on the 13th hole he wasn’t even sure he committed.
Ng finished with a 300 total over the difficult tree-lined layout where no player in the centerpiece men’s event that was the kickoff leg of the PLDT Group National Amateur Tour managed to break par in any round.
“Yes, I would have penalized myself even if it was the 18th hole and even if I was leading by just one,” Ng, who allowed Filipino wonder Rupert Zaragosa to tie for the lead at that point, said.
‘Losing in an honest way’
“I felt I touched the sand in my practice swing,” he continued. “Though I am not sure, I still penalized myself. I wouldn’t have been happy if I committed a violation and did nothing about it.
“I wouldn’t have mind losing in an honest way, rather than winning and knowing at the back of my mind that I did something wrong.”
It was the first national title anywhere for Ng as he bounced back from a double bogey 7 on the 13th hole with the last of his three birdies on the 14th before shooting pars the rest of the way.
Zaragosa, the pint-sized 15-year-old, closed out with a similar 75 then lost in the countback to Muhammad Razif of Malaysia, who shot a 72, and Korean expat Jong Sang-in, who fired a 73, for second and third, respectively.
“There’s always next year,” Zaragosa told the Inquirer. “It’s OK, the good thing about it is that I gave it my best. I just fell short.”
This marked the third straight year that a foreigner won the PH Am and the second consecutive year that a bet from Singapore triumphed. Gregory Foo, born to a Filipino mother, ruled the event last year at Canlubang North.
Meanwhile, Dottie Ardina capped her domination of the women’s side of the event with a 73 for a 54-hole 215 total and an eight-shot win over Mia Legaspi, who fired a 74.
Princess Superal carded a 76 for 229 to clinch third place in the event also backed by Pancake House, Titleist, Golf Depot, Pacsports and Autohub as the official transport provider.
Andres Saldana pooled a 78 and was fifth at 307, with Jik-Jik Abdon firing a 74 to forge a sixth-place tie with Jobim Carlos, who submitted a 75.
The final scores (Filipino unless stated):
Men’s: 300—J. Ng (Sin) 78-73-74-75; 302—M. Razif (Mal) 76-76-78-72, JS-In (Kor) 73-75-81-73, R. Zaragosa 73-74-80-75; 307—A. Saldaña 76-78-75-78; 306 – J. Abdon 79-75-80-74, J. Carlos 82-77-74-75; 309—M. Ong (Sin) 80-73-78-78; 312—K. Jahns (Ger) 80-78-79-75, 314—J. Quiban 80-77-76-81; Women’s: 215—A. Ardina 70-72-73; 223—M. Legaspi 75-74-74; 229—P. Superal 76-77-76; 230—J. Agojo 74-81-75; 231—B. Damian (Mal) 77-78-76, SH Koh (Sin) 78-75-78, F. Medalla 79-72-80; 236—C. Rodriguez 78-80-78