Ilas, Dy bag Junior World plums
SAN DIEGO, California—Bernice Olivarez-Ilas and Jed Dy contributed to the Asian domination of the Callaway Junior World golf championships here by hacking out nerve-wracking victories in their respective divisions and gifting Team Philippines with two titles here Thursday (Friday, Manila time).
The 10-year-old Olivarez-Ilas engaged three California kids in a virtual shootout and endured some trying moments before pulling through.
She closed with a one-over-par 57 at the Lomas Santa Fe executive course— good enough for a two-stroke victory on a 54-hole aggregate of 167 in the girls’ 9-10 years category.
Dy battled back from a four-shot deficit overnight—and seven after the first round —with an eagle-spiked five-under 57 to nip Thailand’s Wit Pipat by a stroke in the boys’ 7-8 years at the Oaks North course.
The incoming third grader at Chinese International School-Manila hit all nine greens in regulation in a flawless front nine, making two birdies on the second and fourth holes and an eagle on the eighth for a four-under card to draw level with Pipat, who had it even at the turn.
Dy seized the lead on the 13th on a bogey by Pipat only to give it back on the next hole which he bogeyed and the Thai birdied. Then came the crucial turnaround on the 16th hole, which Dy birdied from five feet and Pipat bogeyed after missing the green.
The Thai refused to give up, matching Dy’s birdie on the 17th, and almost forged a title playoff on the last hole where he left himself with a short birdie putt.
Dy two-putted from 15-feet for par to claim his first victory in the annual event that gathered 1,100 junior players from 52 countries.
Dy finished with a 184 total after earlier rounds of 66 and 61 while Pipat, who led the first two rounds with a 59 and 64, fell short with 185.
Bernice weathered the challenge in the final round by California bets Yukino Yoshinara (53-169) Karah Stanford (55-170) and Ashley Park (60-172).
Park drew level with Ilas on the fourth before Sanford tied for the lead on the 12th but the Filipino youngster’s consistency thwarted them.
Flown to the US by the country’s flag-carrier Philippine Airlines and supported by the International Terminal Container Services, Inc., the Philippine team also posted three other top 10 finishes.
Mia Legaspi and Sam Martinez fired a 68 and a 70, respectively, to tie for seventh in the girls’ 13-14 years at 215.
Harmie Nicole Constantino closed with a 75 and tied for ninth in the girls’ 11-12 with a 226 total.
“It’s a great day for Philippine golf,” said Luigi Tabuena, president of the Junior Golf Foundation of Philippines. “We’re back in the champions club here in the Junior World. Jed and Bernice deserve their victories because of all the hardwork they’ve done for their campaign in the US.”
The twin victories highlighted the Asian domination of the championships that also saw Thailand win two titles (girls’ 6 under and boys’ 11-12), China tab two (boys’ 13-14 and girls’ 11-12), Japan snare one (girls’ 7-8), and Australia securing the boys’ 9-10.
Thailand is also poised to win the girls’ 15-17 class, where Andie Unson (72-222) and Princess Superal (75-223) trail behind the leading Thai at Torrey Pines north.
Gio Gandionco, meanwhile, finally broke par with a 70 at Torrey Pines South to improve to a share of 13th place.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.