Go pulls off thriller vs Pagdanganan
Nagai wins in men’s playoff
SILANG, Cavite, Philippines — Lois Kaye Go steeled herself up in a thriller of a finish, fending off Bianca Pagdanganan’s fiery backside rally with clutch par putts in the last two holes for a 70 to secure a one-stroke victory in the Philippine Amateur Open Golf Championships at Riviera’s Langer course here yesterday.
Fiercer was the battle for the men’s diadem as Japanese Gen Nagai foiled Thai Vanchai Luangnitikul with a birdie on the second extra hole of a three-man playoff with Singapore’s Lucius Toh in a fitting ending to a four-day battle of talent, skills and wits in the country’s premier championship at one of the toughest courses in the land.
Go actually appeared headed for a cruise after padding her overnight one-shot lead to four over Pagdanganan with a 34 start with Thai Atthaya Thitikul virtually bowing out of the title race with a bogey-riddled 39.
But just as the Cebuana ace thought she had the championship all but wrapped up, Pagdanganan struck back with three birdies in the last nine holes, including back-to-back feats from No. 15 to pull within one.
The Asian Games bronze medalist, however, failed to cap her fiery rally with flubbed birdie chances from long range in the last two holes and Go, a Boston College junior, kept her poise and matched her Asiad gold medal teammate’s pars to clinch the hotly disputed crown on a 72-hole 285 total.
“I got a little bit rattled after she (Pagdanganan) birdied Nos. 15 and 16. But I stayed relaxed and told myself to just take it easy,” said Go, who trailed the fancied Pagdanganan and Thitikul with a 71 in the first round, closed in on the duo with a gutsy 74 in tough conditions Friday then surged ahead with a brilliant 70 in windy play Saturday.
With a huge lead with nine holes to play, Go, a SEA Games bronze medalist who also won the Kuala Lumpur Amateur Open last year, opted to go for regulation pars at the back but Pagdanganan worked her way back with a birdie on the 10th then threatened within one with birdies on Nos. 15 and 16 – a run that, however, proved short after failing to set up short birdie opportunities in the last two holes.
Pagdanganan, a former Phl Ladies Open titlist, finished with a 68 for a 286 in the event sponsored by the MVP Sports Foundation, backed by Cignal and Metro Pacific and held as part of the PLDT Group National Amateur Tour.
In men’s play, Nagai and Toh fought back with identical 71s to force a three-way tie at 298 after 72 holes as Luangnitikul stumbled with a 72. But Toh bowed out early with a bogey on the first playoff hole (No. 18), then Nagai struck a solid approach shot to within four feet for birdie on their next return to No. 18 to beat the Thai, who missed the green, for the crown.
“I played my best game today (yesterday); this win will bring me more confidence as I head back to the US,” said the Mandaue, Cebu-based Nagai, a former Phl Junior champion and member of the Seton Hall U Athletics.
Ivan Monsalve turned in a 73 and wound up a far fourth at 204 while Aidric Chan limped with a 75 for fifth at 305.
Back in women’s division, Thitikul, just one behind Go after 54 holes, never recovered from a three-bogey mishap from No. 4 and dropped out of contention with bogeys on Nos. 9 and 12. She wound up with a 76 and ended up third at 292.
Malaysian Natasha Oon carded a 74 for fourth at 299 while last year’s runner-up Kim Heeji of Korea also shot a 74 for 301 for fifth followed by Junia Gabasa (80-305), Nicole Abelar (73-306), Japanese Tai Saito (75-308), Korean Kim Seo Yun (78-310) and Ayumi Takahashi of Japan (73), Thai Kultida Pramphun (75) and Mikha Fortuna (77), who tied for 10th at 311 in the event organized and conducted by the National Golf Association of the Philippines.
Meanwhile, Shinichi Suzuki rallied with a 77 for a 158, posting a five-stroke victory over Korean Kim Tae Won (88-163) in the Special Division for boys’.
Korean Heeyeon Bang bagged the girls’ title with a 166 after a 79, three-strokes ahead of compatriot Jeong Yeah Eun (89-169).
The event also served as part of NGAP’s talent-search.