Oro, Sinfuego gain early lead in JPGT Iloilo golf tilt

Oro, Sinfuego gain early lead in JPGT Iloilo golf tilt
Rhiena Sinfuego (left) and Rey Oro
Pilipinas Golf

ILOILO – Rey Oro navigated a challenging front nine, finishing with a six-over 76 to secure a three-stroke lead over Eddie Gonzales Jr. in the boys’ 16-18 category of the ICTSI Junior Philippine Golf Tour Iloilo Visayas Series at the Iloilo Golf Club here Monday.

The opening round of the three-leg regional series showcased dominant performances across several age divisions on the demanding par-70 course. The heavily wooded layout, with its requirement for accurate drives, precise wedge shots and firm putting on sloped greens, tested all participants.

Oro managed one birdie against seven bogeys in wet conditions, emerging as the top performer after the first 18 holes of the 72-hole competition. His standout moment came on the par-4 sixth hole, where an errant drive hit a tree and landed in a fairway bunker. Oro reached the green and sank a 16-foot putt for birdie.

“Maganda palo at nag-click ang putting (I hit good shots and my putting clicked),” said the 17-year-old from Bacolod.

Gonzalez, playing two flights ahead of Oro, finished with a 79, thanks to birdies on two of the last four holes on the front nine. Despite a triple-bogey on the seventh hole, he stayed within striking distance.

Paul Oro also put himself in contention with an 81, while Arsenio Acuña IV, Rinz Vesinica, and Sean Sinfuego posted scores of 83, 84, and 85, respectively.

In the girls’ 16-18 category, Santa Barbara natives Rhiena Sinfuego and Necky Tortosa are set for a close contest. Sinfuego carded a 96, while Tortosa, who plays with one arm, scored a 102.

Tortosa, a senior at Santa Barbara National Comprehensive High School, expressed her determination to compete and her excitement about the tournament.

“I really wanted to play golf. Kahit ganito ako, kaya po pa din maglaro. I was really excited when I learned that the JPGT will hold a tournament here. So I trained and practiced the last seven days,” Tortosa said.

Sinfuego, an 18-year-old from Phinma University of Iloilo, shared her nervousness but also her joy at participating in the event sponsored by ICTSI and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments Inc.

“This is our first time to play in JPGT at nakakakaba, pero masaya kasi nakalaro kami sa ganitong event (It’s nerve-wracking, but we’re happy because we got to play in this kind of event),” Sinfuego said. “We need more practice because we have just recently returned to playing after the pandemic.”

Hannah Bernardo struggled with a 125, placing her third, while Blessy Solinap shot a 130.

In the youngest category (8-9) set over 36 holes, Kvan Alburo made a 91 to open a 27-stroke lead over Glover Sinfuego in the boys’ side, while Denise Mendoza delivered an impressive 12-over 82, leading by 39 strokes over Ana Marie Aguilar, who scored a 121.

In the 10-12 division, also disputed over 36 holes, Cailey Gonzales posted a remarkable four-over 74, with two birdies against six bogeys, taking a seven-stroke lead over Zuri Bagaloyos, who scored an 81. Tea Bernardino stood third with an 87.

“I feel happy. The back-to-back birdies from No. 6 inside 12 feet gave me confidence,” said 11-year-old Gonzales from Manila, aiming to stay calm and confident in the final round.

Isaac Locsin led the boys’ division with a 91, eight strokes ahead of Kurt Flores, who made a 99. Luigi Alvarez scored a 118 for third.

“I had fun playing in the JPGT,” said 10-year-old Locsin from the University of St. La Salle-Bacolod. “The course is challenging, especially its greens. My game plan is to putt better tomorrow (Tuesday).”

In the 54-hole, 13-15 class, Alexie Gabi took charge in the girls’ category with an 81, 10 strokes ahead of Tiffany Bernardino, who shot a 92. Rane Chiu carded a 94 for third. Inno Flores seized control in the boys’ category with a 79, four strokes ahead of Dannuo Zhu, with Ritchie Go scoring an 85 for third.

“It was really fun that we got to play in JPGT and I plan to stay consistent on getting pars and avoid making double bogeys,” said 13-year-old Flores from Bacolod. He highlighted his round with a birdie on No. 17, where his drive overshot the green but spun back three yards to set up a successful putt.

“It was actually my first time to do an actual backspin,” Flores added.

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