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Wong wavers but leads by 2; Saso fires 65

Jolo Magcalayo - Joey Mendoza

MANILA, Philippines — Paolo Wong slowed down with a 73 but padded his lead to two halfway through the men’s Championship Division even as Yuka Saso stamped her class and fired a 65 in the opener of ladies play in the Canlubang Amateur Open at the Canlubang Golf and Country Club’s South and North courses in Laguna yesterday.

Wong, who turned in a bogey-free 67 Wednesday, stumbled with a double-bogey on the opening par-4 hole and hit just two birdies against one more bogey for a 37-36 card and a 140.

Jolo Magcalayo, who kept Wong in sight with a first round 68, grabbed the lead with an opening par but bogeyed the next and fell by two again with bogeys on Nos. 5 and 8.

The club bet closed out with a birdie against a bogey at the back to card a 74 for a 142 heading to the final 18 holes of the 17th staging of the event put up annually by the host club and the Yulo family as part of their continuing effort to help develop the sport.

Gido Mandanas, another club entry, blew a 35 start with a bogey-riddled backside stint, needing to birdie the 18th to save a 73 and stay in the hunt at 143, three strokes off the Manila Southwoods ace.

Paolo Barro of Villamor shot one of day’s three best scores of 72 to move to fourth at 146 while Jonas Magcalayo skied to a 76 and fell nine strokes behind at 149.

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Korean Seung Hyeon Back of Alabang limped with a 77 for a 150, Cangolf’s Carlo Villaroman bounced back with a 72 for a 151 while Kim Tae Soo from Orchard wavered with a 78 for joint eighth with Aguinaldo’s Perry Bucay, who carded a 73, at 154.

Saso, on the other hand, flaunted her awesome form and scorched the North’s backside with six birdies for a stirring 30 for a 65 and a six-stroke lead over Mafy Singson, who fired a 71.

Laia Barro of Villamor matched par 72 while Nicole Abelar of South Forbes, Sophia Blanco of Tagaytay Midlands, Kang Da Yeon of Riviera and Pradera’s Annyka Cayabyab carded 73, 75, 76 and 77, respectively.

Saso, who anchored Pradera’s record romp in the recent PAL Ladies Interclub in Cebu, gunned down just one birdie at the front to share the early lead with Singson. But the veteran internationalist ran off three straight birdies to launch her backside charge, then added another on No. 14 before holing out with back-to-back feats to cap her dominant start in the 36-hole tournament.

Also being disputed are the titles in Classes A, B and C.

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