CANLUBANG, Laguna – Rupert Zaragosa birdied the last two holes to complete a magnificent comeback and deny three-day leader Andres Saldana in the 19th WExpress-DHL RVF Amateur Golf Championship title presented by the MVP Sports Foundation at Canlubang’s North course.
The 16-year-old closed out with a tournament-best five-under-par 67 and won by two shots over Saldana, who submitted a 71 after failing to drain critical putts in the closing holes of the event forming part of the PLDT Group Amateur Tour and backed by Pancake House, Golf Depot and Pacsports.
Zaragosa tallied a nine-under 279 after 72 holes in the heavily-wooded, wind-swept layout and won his first DHL title, the only gem erstwhile missing from what was already an impressive trophy collection.
Saldana had fended off Zaragosa in the previous three rounds and in the first 16 holes yesterday, only to come up short when he needed to make something happen down the stretch.
Zaragosa birdied the par-5 17th from gimme distance to tie Saldana before putting his approach shot on the final hole way past the cup after he had hooked his drive into heavy rough.
Saldana was also in trouble off the 18th tee, hitting his second shot from a bare lie and flying his approach way past the hole and into the lip of the back bunker.
Zaragosa then got a read on Saldana’s putt, which went about six feet past the cup, and the five-foot high school student of Don Bosco Canlubang made the most of the opportunity.
“I told myself that, after getting an idea of the speed because of Andres’ putt, that my putt had a chance of going in,” Zaragosa said. “I am very happy.”
Saldana, who started the day with a two-shot lead, then went on to three-putt the closing hole and finish two strokes behind, with Magno Arancon of Del Monte checking in third at 289 after a 76.
The event was held in honor of the late Rod V. Feliciano, the former president of DHL Philippines who also served as president of the organizing National Golf Association of the Philippines.
Park Min Ung, a Korean expat playing out of Riviera, finished tied for fourth with Leonard Lofranco at 292 after a 69. Lofranco submitted a 72.
John Kier Abdon finished with a 294 tally after a 75, with Lee Su Hong shooting a 76 to be another two strokes back. Gabriel Manotoc and Miggy Yee tied at 300 after a 75 and 76, respectively.