LJ GO fired five birdies en route to a 2-under-par 70 yesterday and a one-stroke lead over an obscure pair at the start of the WWWExpress-DHL Amateur Open championship presented by the MVP Sports Foundation.
The Cebuano teenager, who will be leaving for the United States in the next few months for a golf scholarship at Seton Hall, birdied three times on the back nine against a bogey on the 16th. He also made two birdies and the same number of bogeys going out.
Long shots Chris Mamaril and Park Min-ung of South Korea assembled 71s to share second place even as the fancied Keanu Jahns and Rupert Zaragosa struggled over the tree-lined Canlubang North layout in Laguna.
Former national champion Jik-Jik Abdon and three others fired a 72 in the event also backed by Pancake House, Nike, Golf Depot and Pacsports and which is part of the PLDT Group’s Amateur Golf Tour.
Meanwhile, members of the crack ICTSI team, led by Dottie Ardina and former Philippine Ladies’ champions Cyna Rodriguez and Jayvee Agojo, are tipped to dominate the women’s 54-hole championship that tees off today.
Jahns, the birdie-making machine for Alabang in the recent Philippine Airlines Interclub won by Go’s Cebu Country Club squad, and Zaragosa never got it going after completing their respective first nines at 38 and 39.
Jahns wound up with a 75 while Zaragosa carded a 77.
Zaragosa, who held the boys’ and men’s national championships at the same time two years ago, drove the ball out of bounds on No. 3 and signed for an uncharacteristic triple bogey 7 on one of the shorter par-4s on the course.
Wolen Superal, the former age-group wonder, also shot a 75 even as Gen Nagai, the Japanese teammate of Go at Cebu CC, matched par to be just two shots behind.