Catch him if you can: Zaragosa now eight ahead on Iloilo field
Rupert Zaragosa can’t remember if he had ever gunned down 10 birdies in a round of a pro event before. He’ll surely remember what could come Saturday because of that.
Shooting six of those birdies coming home, Zaragosa on Friday fired a seven-under-par 63 to open up an eight-stroke lead and practically sew up his first professional title with 18 holes left in the P2.25 million ICTSI Iloilo Golf Challenge at age-old Sta. Barbara.
“I have worked so hard and sacrificed a lot in the last four years to get to this position,” Zaragosa, who has a 196 aggregate after playing the back nine at 13-under for the week, said in Filipino. “I hope to finally close it out.”
Dutchman Guido Van der Valk, the reigning Order of Merit winner who had a forgettable campaign at Marapara last week, fired a 68 and is the closest threat, with the seasoned Antonio Lascuña another two shots behind after returning a 67.
“The course is not easy, I think I am just lucky for getting my shots to the places I want them to be,” Zaragosa went on as he shoots for his pro breakthrough while owning one of the biggest final round leads in tour history.
Meanwhile, amateur Rianne Malixi completed a comeback from six strokes down to win the ladies event, closing out with a 66 for 209 a four-shot victory over Chihiro Ikeda.
Ikeda fired a week-best 64 for second place and the top prize with Malixi only eligible to win the trophy. Daniella Uy, the second round leader, crumbled under pressure and ballooned to an 81 to finish nine strokes off Malixi.
“The course is pretty much perfect for Rupert,” said Van der Valk, who signed for two double bogeys which could have pruned the gap he needs to overhaul in the final round.