SAN DIEGO, California - Carl Jano Corpus and Jed Dy gained a share of second in their respective divisions as the best-placed performers for Team Philippines on a day Japan asserted its might by taking or sharing the lead in seven out of the 12 division battles at the start of the 47th Callaway Junior World golf championships in various venues here.
Corpus turned in a birdie-riddled four-under-par 67 at Sycuan Resort-Oak Glen to stay just three strokes behind the American leader in the boys 11-12 years age-group, while Dy, gunning for a second crown in three years after ruling the boys 7-8 in 2012, opened with a one-under 61 at Wek Resort-Fountains course and found himself in a seven-way logjam six shots behind Japanese Ken Shibata in the boys 9-10 years play.
Shibata was one of the day's seven frontrunners emerging from a powerhouse Japan contingent which appeared bent on another dominating show with a host of others also contending for the crown.
Miya Legaspi, Bernice Ilas, Wei Wei Gao, Yuka Saso, and Harmie Constantino provided the other bright points to an otherwise slow start by the Philippine delegation which saw its main guy, Rupert Zaragosa, falling with a loud thud at the tough Torrey Pines south course where he shot a six-over-par 78.
Ilas, who completed a title double with Dy with her victory in the 9-10 age-group three years ago, fired a three-under 70 at the Rancho Bernardo Inn course despite nagging pain on her right knee to put herself in fifth position in girls 9-10 years while Legaspi shot a two-under 70 at Torrey Pines North and was in sixth place in the girls 15-17.
Wei Wei Gao was also in a tie for sixth in the boys 13-14 with his four-under 67 which he assembled with four birdies and an eagle on his last 11 holes at Morgan Run Resort.
Saso and Constantino played the Country Club of Rancho Bernardino with 71s and were also in a six-way bunch at sixth.
Ilas started birdie-birdie and could have done better if not for a lot of missed birdie opportunities that she set up with her awesome power off the tee and superb iron play. She starts the second round Wednesday only four off California native Yealimi Noh who fired a 66.
National team standout Legaspi, followed by a number of university scouts during her round, made six birdies against four bogeys to trail the joint leaders by two in what is shaping up to be a wild chase for the top plum.
Two other PH bets were within four strokes or less off the pace with Daniella Uy carding a 71 for joint 12th and Princess Superal matching par 72 after bungling her own birdie chances coming home to be in the group at 18th place.
"The kids did well and quite a number of them potentially getting into the title picture in the second round. It's going to be an exciting day tomorrow," said Luigi Tabuena, president of the Junior Golf Foundation of the Philippines who is leading the 45-strong PH delegation in the meet participated in by 1,200 juniors from 50 countries.
Zaragosa, the country's top junior playing his final year here, was a picture of frustration all day, his round marred by two double bogeys and three bogeys against a lone birdie on the fifth. He was tied for 100th among 209 entries with Raymart Tolentino outperforming him with a 76 but was still way behind in a group at 60th place
Pauline del Rosario, expected to deliver after a string of international successes this year, was far behind in the 15-17 chase after soaring to a 76 that left her in a tie for 53rd, and so did Sean Granada (64, tied for 20th) in boys 9-10, and girls 9-10 bets Annyka Cayabyab and Burbery Zhang who could do no better than a 59 at Lomas Santa Fe executive and finished the day staring at an imposing eight-stroke deficit.