DEFENDING champion Abe Avena fired a two-over-par 74 to share the lead with former pro Eddie Bagtas and two others after Wednesday’s first round of the National Senior Amateur Championship presented by the MVP Sports Foundation at Mount Malarayat in Lipa.
Avena fired 36-38 at the composite Malipunyo and Lobo nines despite a very poor putting performance, joining Bagtas, Egay San Luis and the veteran Mari Hechanova at the top of the standings of the tournament organized by the National Golf Association of the Philippines.
Bagtas, who returned to amateur status at the start of the year, rebounded from a front nine 40 with a 34 coming home. San Luis turned in a 37-37 and Hechanova had nines of 36-38.
Former champion Dave Hernandez shot a 77, with Rudy Amata and Tony Olives shooting 78s.
Francis Gaston, another former winner, was had an opening 79.
Former pro Gary Sales fired a 77 to pace the Mid-Am division, a stroke ahead of Jeck Mendoza.
Gerald Katigbak and Augusto de Jesus were in joint third after scoring 82s in the tournament backed by Pancake House, Golf Depot and Pacsports as part of the PLDT Group Amateur Tour.
Bagtas helped power Luisita to victory in the Philippine Airlines Senior Interclub title in Bacolod last February and then started campaigning individually by making the Round-of-16 of the Philippine Men’s Amateur championship.