EDDIE Bagtas matched par 72 on Friday and ran off with an eight-stroke victory over Abe Avena in the NGAP’s National Senior Amateur Championship presented by the MVP Sports Foundation at the well-manicured Mount Malarayat layout in Lipa City.
The 55-year-old Bagtas scooted away early with three of his four birdies in the front nine before going in cruise control the rest of the way to win the event in his first year of eligibility after shedding his pro status.
Bagtas, whose first event back as an amateur happened with Luisita in the PAL Interclub last February, tallied a four-over 220 at the Malipunyo and Lobo nines and clearly established himself as a force in the ranks just half a year after reverting back.
Avena, who ripped the field last year, fired a 76, even as Dave Hernandez finished another two strokes behind for third also after a 76. Egay San Luis closed out with a 79 and was fourth at 236 in the event also backed by Pancake House, Golf Depot and Pacsports as part of the PLDT Amateur Group,
Mari Hechanova, the veteran from Canlubang, fired an 81 and Rudy Amata shot an 82 to tie at 237.
Bagtas opened up with a 74 on Wednesday and settled for a four-way tie for the lead that included Avena and San Luis. But when conditions became difficult, the colorful former pro left the field in his wake with another 74 in the second round.
Jeck Mendoza closed out with a 78 to tie Gary Sales in regulation at 235 before winning out in sudden death with a routine par to cop the Mid-Am title in come-from-behind style over the former teeboy from Villamor.
Sales, who held the lead after the first two rounds, skied to an 80 while club member Gerald Katigbak was third at 245 after an 83.