MANILA Southwoods came out with its guns blazing on Wednesday, fighting back from seven points down to a four-point lead heading to a possible showdown at the shorter and much trickier Baguio Country Club golf course in the 68th Department of Tourism Fil-Am Invitational Golf Tournament.
Luigi Paolo Wong once again showed his familiarity with the course he calls home as the La Trinidad, Benguet native matched his first day four under for 40 points to pace the Carmona, Cavite parbusters anew.
The 16-year-old Wong hit five birdies against a lone bogey as he seized the top of the individual standings on his debut with the most decorated ball club in the Fil-Am.
The 15-year-old Joo Hyung Kim and Aidric Chan fired three-under 66s for 39 points each. Carl Corpus was one under for the round and scored 37 as Southwoods submitted a 11-under 155 for a 301 total.
Veteran Junjun Plana, in his 21st year with Manila Southwoods in one of the longest-running and biggest amateur golf team competitions in the country, shot 28 points and did not count.
Wong assumed leadership in the individual race with 80 points, with Kim four shots down and one up on Jude Eustaquio.
“We’re proud with the way the boys played and its good we were able to gain some grounds,” said non-playing co-captain Jerome Delariarte, who was part of the winning Southwoods team during the late 90s and early 2000s.
“Hopefully we can pull the win,” added Delariarte, who was with the Southwoods team that pulled off one of the greatest comebacks in Fil-Am, the 2002 edition. That Southwoods squad was 16 points down after day two, the team made a miraculous comeback that saw them beat Calatagan by a point at the end of the four day competition. It was Southwoods sixth’ straight in the premier Fil Championship flight.
“Nag-settle down na mga bata kaya maganda na score namin,” said Southwoods captain Thirdy Escano.
“I’m confident naman with what the boys can do. In every tournament we prepare hard kaya kung matatalo kami, alam ko we gave it our very best,” he added.
“Pero confident ako sa mga bata. Na monitor ko naman practice nila,” he said.
Forest Hills could not match the firepower of Southwoods this time as it came in with an even par 144 for 297 with Rocky Co leading the charge with a three under for 39 points.
Marc Chan Lu was one under for the round for 37 points, Dan Cruz had a one over for 35 and day one star Jude Eustaquio stumbled with a 33.
Former pro Raymund Sangil, who did not count on day one, shot an even par for 36 points to match the youthful Luis Castro to lead Royal Northwoods 140 point production and 271 aggregate, good for third spot.
Richard Joson had a one over 35 and Carlo Villaroman assembled a 33 to count for the team which is seven up on Mizuno X-1R which shot 137 thanks to the four under 40 of King Stehmeier. Mizuno has a two day total of 264, seven shots off Northwoods.
Chepe Dulay had a two over 34 as defending champion Southwoods improved to 230 for a 15 shot lead in the Am Championship.
Kristoffer Arevalo and the beanpole LanzUy scored 29, while JamaReyes chipped in 27 even as GJ Katigbak did not count with a 26.
Damas Wong led Razons of Guagua with 30 points for the team’s 111 and 215 tally to remain at second spot with 215 and 12 up on Team Time Cargo Logistics which shot 104 and 203 tally.
Despite losing two points due to penalty, The Mountaineers of Kalinga and Apayao carry a three shot lead as play shifts to the shorter Baguio Country Club.
Eric Espadero fired 24 points to lead the Mountaneers with 87 points for a 188 total to remain atop Fil C action.
Arnel Peil had 23, Apayao Gov. Elias Bulut made 22 and Kalinga board member Rainier Sarol chipped in 18 to count for the team.
Yokosan fired a high 98 to join Mizuno Ecostrong at second spot with 185. Yokosan got 25 points from Ed Briones, Caloy Guzman and 23 of Joey Pacleb. Mizuno came in with 88 on the 27 of Michael Miguel, 23 of Pablo Olivares, 19 of Gino Olivares and Lovell Gopez.
Meanwhile, Fil-Am League of Golfers Chicago shot a flight best 89 and join Isabela Golf Club – Leaders atop the leaderboard in Am C with 170. John Miranda led the Chicago golfers with 24 points. Egay Pagulayan scored 24 points to topscore for Isabela anew.
Chris Bautista shot 26 as Baguio Country Club amassed 78 points and 155 total to wrest third spot from Waterlympics Clark/Kofione Prime Coffee.