Rho hits hole-in-one, leads ICTSI Philippine Masters with 67

Rho hits hole-in-one, leads ICTSI Philippine Masters with 67
Hyun Ho Rho.
Pilipinas Golf

MANILA, Philippines -- Hyun Ho Rho outgunned Ryan Monsalve in an early shootout between two emerging stars of the Philippine Golf Tour, spiking his solid, five-under 67 with a hole-in-one in the first round of the ICTSI Philippine Masters in Pasay City Wednesday.

The 2023 PGT Q-School topnotcher aced the 195-yard No. 4, complemented by three birdies, including two in the last three holes. His bogey-free 33-34 performance came in scorching conditions at the Villamor Golf Club which yielded just five under-par rounds.

Monsalve had an impressive start in the third flight with Rho and veteran Marvin Dumandan, eagling the par-5 No. 2 and bouncing back from a mishap on third hole with birdie on No. 6. He dominated the next two long holes on Nos. 8 and 13 but couldn’t match Rho’s birdie on the par-5 18th.

Still, Monsalve’s 68 put himself in early contention in the P2-million championship, his best start in a career marked by a fifth-place finish in his first pro event at Apo last March.

“I hit it solid, straight to the pin. I didn’t even know it went it until my sister told me,” said the 19-year-old Rho. “That’s when I realized I made a hole-in-one.”

Rho had mixed results in the first three legs of this year’s PGT. He tied for 15th at Apo, missed the cut at Palos Verdes and struggled to a share of 36th at Caliraya Springs.

Recording his first ace in the ranks, Rho described his overall game as good, though he noted some missed birdie chances.

“I wasn’t really putting well, but I was lucky to sink my par putts,” said Rho, who used a 5-iron and Titleist No. 2 ball for the ace worth P20,000 from the organizing Pilipinas Golf Tournaments Inc.

Despite seizing the early lead, Rho tempered his expectations. “I’m just going to enjoy my game, do my best and hope for the best.”

The young talents stood out against the seasoned campaigners with Aidric Chan shooting a 69 for solo third. Lloyd Go, a winner at Palos Verdes, and Guido van der Valk, twice a runner-up here, each positioned themselves with 71s.

Monsalve, on the other hand, credited his execution, especially off the tee, for his strong performance in the early going of the 72-hole championship sponsored by ICTSI.

“I played my tee shots well. There were some bad breaks, such as not-so-great lies, but I executed well all throughout,” he said. “I made some really good putts down the stretch to keep my score at 4-under and finished strong.”

He recounted his start with an eagle on No. 2, followed by three birdies in eight-hole stretch from No. 6, despite a bogey on the third.

Chan, this year’s Q-School winner, highlighted his 69 with three birdies at the front nine, overcoming a bogey on the 10th with another birdie on No,. 13.

Reflecting on his 33-36 round, the former amateur standout expressed confidence on his chances in the tournament supported by PGTI official apparel Kampfortis Golf.

“I started out pretty well but struggled at the back,” said Chan. “But I’m confident I have knowledge for practicing here for weeks. My expectations are high as long as I hit my drives and fairways and make some birdies.”

Sean Ramos eagled the challenging par-5 No. 8 following birdies on Nos. 2 and 6 to post the best frontside output of 32. However, he struggled in the last nine holes, bogeying Nos. 12 and 14 and dropping two strokes on the No. 16, ending with a 72 and slipping to joint sixth with 11 others.

They include Art Arbole, former champion Jerson Balasabas, Russell Bautista, Michael Bibat, Rico Depilo, Ivan Monsalve, Gerald Rosales, Dino Villanueva, Rupert Zaragosa, Daiya Suzuki and amateur Jeffren Lumbo.

Meanwhile, Tony Lascuña and Angelo Que carded 73s for joint 18th with Mark Alcazar, Elee Bisera, Reymon Jaraula and Daiki Ueda, while Jobim Carlos shot a 74 for a share of 24th with Kristoffer Arevalo, Ferdie Aunzo, Fidel Concepcion and eight others.

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