Vito Sarines JPGT triumph surprises even himself

Vito Sarines JPGT triumph surprises even himself

/ 06:57 PM May 16, 2024

Junior Philippine Golf Tour Luzon Series I JPGT

Young champs show off their medals during the awarding ceremony of the Junior Philippine Golf Tour (JPGT) Luzon Series I. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Vito Sarines battled back from eight strokes down to edge out Race Manhit in a thrilling finish and snatch a one-shot victory in the boys’ 11-14 age category of the Junior Philippine Golf Tour Luzon Series I at Splendido Taal Golf Club on Thursday.

Despite initially struggling with rounds of 90 and 89, Sarines remained hopeful. Starting with a bogey on No. 10, he bounced back with an eagle-par-birdie run from No. 11 in a flight ahead of Manhit, then weathered a challenging five-bogey stretch over eight holes from No. 15.

He closed out with five gutsy pars, finishing with an impressive round of 75, ultimately claiming the title with a 254 total over 54 holes.

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Sarines had no awareness of his standing during the final round, allowing him to play with virtually no pressure.

“I … only learned that I had won after holing out,” said Sarines, who sank a 15-yard putt for eagle on the par-5 11th. “Going to the 18th, I told myself that I needed to make par to have a chance at winning.”

Manhit, who led by one stroke over Inigo Gallardo after 36 holes, maintained his lead or shared it throughout most of the round. He briefly pulled ahead of Sarines in the last flight with a birdie on No. 6. But a costly double bogey on the next hole dimmed his chances, as Sarines parred the last four holes.

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Manhit ended up with an 84, setting for second place with a 255 total, while Gallardo placed third with a 263 after a 91.

READ: Precious Zaragosa scores first career ace, shares JPGT lead in Batangas

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In the girls’ 11-14 division, Precious Zaragosa fended off a spirited challenge from twins Mona and Lisa Sarines to clinch a four-stroke victory, closing with a 76 for a 231.

Zaragosa maintained her two-stroke lead over Lisa Sarines after 36 holes by making crucial birdies to offset some struggles at the front, including a double-bogey on No. 4. She then pounced on Mona Sarines’ double-bogey and bogey on Nos. 12 and 13, respectively, finishing with a birdie and two bogeys at the back to seal her commanding win.

“I’m happy to win this tournament as part of my preparation for the Junior World in July,” said Zaragosa. “I learned a lot here, especially that I need to improve my putting and iron game.”

Mona Sarines shot a 77 for second at 235 while Lisa Sarines failed to recover from a frontside 43 and wound up with an 80 for third with 237.

Vito Sarines and Zaragosa thus joined 8-10 category champions Ryuji Suzuki and Maurysse Abalos in the early roster of winners, marking the start of a nationwide 14-leg tour, which includes three tournaments in the Visayas and four in Mindanao.

These performances highlight the competitive spirit and emerging talents in the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc., showcasing the future stars of the sport in the country.

In the premier 15-18 category spanning 72 holes, Jiwon Lee and Zachary Villaroman positioned themselves for varied finishes with the former extending her overnight four-stroke lead to six despite a 76, totaling 230.

Winner in her division in last year’s JPGT inaugurals, Lee struggled with a difficult backside start, bogeying the first four holes, leading to a 41. However, an eagle on the par-5 No. 1 revived her spirits, bucking a bogey on the third hole with a run of pars, finishing with a 35 for a four-over par round.

“I was disappointed with my front nine (back nine),” rued Lee. “I made three three-putts and four consecutive bogeys. I was really frustrated and losing hope. But I managed to regain my rhythm after a ‘lucky’ eagle on the first hole. That turned things around for me.”

With a six-shot lead heading into the last 18 holes, Lee suggested a more conservative approach: “I plan to play it safe, aiming for two-putts and a par-game rather than attacking the pins.”

Lia Duque failed to capitalize on Lee’s struggles, wavering in tough conditions and ending with a 40. Despite a birdie on the first hole, she faltered towards the finish, bogeying three of the last five holes to conclude with a 78 and a 236.

Rafa Anciano also skied to a 91 for third at 262.

Villaroman seemed poised for a commanding lead after gaining a seven-shot advantage after six holes. However, four double-bogeys in the next seven holes led to an 81 and a 236. This opened the door for a thrilling finale with first-round leader Charles Serdenia re-entering the title chase with a 76 for a 237, just a stroke off

the leader.
“I played really bad today,” said Villaroman. “I had three double-bogeys on the back nine and found myself in tricky spots I hadn’t anticipated, like ending up in the

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fairway but with a bad lie. But that’s golf. I’ll just do my best tomorrow and try to enjoy it.”
Last year’s winner Patrick Tambalque and Alexander Crisostomo matched 242s after 75 and 78, respectively, keeping them in contention.

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