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Golf order restored in second round as big guns assume command

/ 05:10 AM July 31, 2021
Philippines' Juvic Pagunsan plays a shot from the bunker on the 18th hole in round 2 of the men’s golf individual stroke play during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Kasumigaseki Country Club in Kawagoe on July 30, 2021.

Juvic Pagunsan plays a sterling shot from the greenside trap of hole No. 18 that led to par and sealed a second round 73. —AFP

SAITAMA, Japan—The stars made their move and Juvic Pagunsan faded, as the Philippine bet soared to a two-over-par 73 in the second round of men’s golf at the Tokyo Olympics on Friday, as a second weather delay called action that left American Xander Schauffele with the clubhouse lead.

Pagunsan took one bad break after another in his first 13 holes, which he played at three-over, and the 43-year-old couldn’t hold on in battling some of the biggest names in the game as a medal finish came close to fizzling out as quickly as it emerged after his opening 66 on Thursday.

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“My putting was not good and I hit lot of bad shots today. I was lucky to finish with just a two-over score,” said Pagunsan.

Schauffele seized the upperhand with an explosive 63 at Kasumigaseki Country Club’s east course for a one-shot lead over Carlos Ortiz of Mexico with a 131 total. Ortiz shot a 67.

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A four-time winner on the PGA Tour, Schauffele played the final five holes at five-under highlighted by an eagle on the 14th and three closing birdies.

Other lesser lights who took control of the first round were nowhere to be found as Masters champion and local favorite Hideki Matsuyama and Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy also thrust themselves into the title chase.

Matsuyama was six-under for the day and just three off the lead when the siren sounded to signal the end of play due to threat of lightning. Unlike Matsuyama, McIlroy was able to complete a 66 and was four behind at 135.

Pagunsan gave himself what should be a big confidence booster in the battle for the medals in the last two rounds, with a big par save on the last hole, something that he can carry into weekend play.

Pagunsan drove into the rough and got a break when his ball stopped a yard short of the bunker on the right edge of a vicious dog-leg. Facing all kinds of trouble and with the flag tucked in the deep right corner of the green, he pulled out a hybrid and sent his 200-yard approach to the left bunker.

He then hit a perfect 40-yard bunker shot that landed at the right spot of and rolled down the severely sloping green before stopping four feet from the pin that led to the par.

Schauffele is sharing the Games experience with his swing coach and father, Stefan. —With reports from Reuters

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TAGS: Golf, Juvic Pagunsan, PH Tokyo 2020, Tokyo Olympics
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