Sarines, Chan romp off with JPGT Riviera titles

Athena Serapio sprints straight into her mom Michelle’s embrace after dominating the girls’ 8-9 division from start to finish in her debut appearance at the JPGT Luzon Series at Riviera’s Couples course, winning by nine strokes.

SILANG, Cavite – Consistency defined the second day of the ICTSI Junior PGT Luzon Series 4 as first-round leaders across various age-group categories in both the boys’ and girls’ divisions maintained their momentum, securing victories at the Riviera Golf and Country Club’s Couples course here on Wednesday.

Vito Sarines notched his third leg victory in smashing fashion, carding a 74 in overcast skies after a 70 as he assembled an even 144 total for a whopping 15-stroke triumph over Jacob Casuga, who pooled a 159 after a 79. Nathaniel Yeung struggled with a 91 and wound up third with a 178 in the boys’ 10-12 category.

Despite missing his target of surpassing his first-round performance, Sarines, who won the Splendido Taal and Pinewoods tournaments and secured a second-place finish at Pradera Verde, remains determined. He vows to secure at least one more win in the final three legs of the seven-leg Luzon series.

“I will compete in the rest of the Luzon series and aim for another victory,” he said.

In the girls’ 10-12 division, Aerin Chan clinched the top spot after two fifth-place finishes in previous tournaments. She slowed down with an 86 after an impressive 73 and won by five with a 159 total.

Quincy Pilac shot an 85 for second at 164, while Pradera Verde leg winner Georgina Handog and Maurysse Abalos, who topped the Splendido Taal leg, placed third and fourth with 84-175 and 97-191, respectively, in the fourth leg of the regional series sponsored by ICTSI and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.

“It’s really exciting to win, and I hope to continue this success in future tournaments,” said Chan. She emphasized the importance of working on her attitude, adding, “My goal is to significantly improve my short game, especially my putting.”

In the boys’ 8-9 group, Cebu’s Kvan Alburo, already a finalist after dominating the three-part Visayas series recently, delivered another wire-to-wire triumph. He matched his first round output of 90, finishing the 36-hole competition with a 180. He bested Jesus Yambao and Michael Ray Hortel II by 23 strokes.

Yambao carded a 104 while Hortel II faltered with a 105 as they tied for second with 203s with the former snaring runner-up honors via countback.

Athena Serapio made a strong debut in the JPGT, cruising to an 11-stroke victory in the girls’ youngest category with a 91 for a 184 total. Tyra Garingalao finished second with 100 for a 195, while Andrea Dee came in third with a 103, totaling 202.

“I just focused on each hole. I needed to make a good score because my first-round performance was poor,” said Serapio, who will turn eight this year. She thanked her parents and swing coaches for their support.

In the 13-15 category, set over 54 holes, Jose Carlos Taruc and Levonne Talion maintained firm control, while Patrick Tambalque and Rafa Anciano stayed ahead of their rivals in the premier 16-18 division of the nationwide circuit supported by PGTI official apparel Kampfortis Golf.

Taruc shot a 78 after a 79, his 157 aggregate giving him an eight-shot cushion over Andres Fabie, who carded an 80 after an 85 for a 165. John Paul Agustin, Jr. slipped to third at 166 after an 84.

“My iron play was significantly better compared to yesterday. I found myself consistently closer to the pin. Additionally, my putting has also improved,” said Taruc, who emphasized the importance of refining his short game. “I’m hopeful that my overall performance will continue to improve tomorrow (Thursday).”

Talion also closed in on a breakthrough victory after an 80, netting her a 36-hole total of 165, 13 strokes clear of Montserrat Lapuz, who assembled a 178 after an 87. Gen. Santos City’s Alexie Gabi, bidding to gain points in the Luzon series after falling short in the Visayas tour, made a 94 to move to third at 183.

“I definitely played better today (Wednesday) and managed to convert several up-and-downs,” said Talion, punctuating her 41-39 card with a birdie on the 12th where she executed a precise 8-iron shot to within three feet.

Despite her substantial lead, the rising star from Calamba remains focused on improving her performance in the final 18 holes of the tournament.

Tambalque, who ruled the Visayas Series 2 in Murcia, Binitin, also pulled away in the premier category, firing a 74 for an impressive 149 total and an eight-stroke lead although Negros Occidental leg winner Simon Wahing charged back with a 72 for a 157, setting the stage for a spirited duel in the last 36 holes.

Benedict Kobayashi dropped to third with a 160 after an 83.

“After a rough start, I managed to bounce back in the final stretch,” said Tambalque, who struggled with bogeys on four of the initial back nine holes but redeemed himself with birdies on two of the last four holes at the front.

Looking ahead to the remaining 36 holes, Tambalque, hailing from Cavite, expressed humility, stating he has no specific expectations for another victory but is determined to execute his strategy to secure another leg win.

Anciano also moved 36 holes away from nailing a second leg victory after nipping Chloe Rada in sudden death at Pinewoods. She carded an 88 for a 172 to post a commanding 21-stroke lead over Rada, who wavered with a 97.
Gabriela Sison also shot a 97 for third with a 195, while Makati’s Casey Frankum turned in a second straight 99 for a 195.

“My short game, especially my putting, was a challenge,” said Anciano, who made a remarkable bunker shot on the par-3 sixth hole to save par. “Improving my short game is crucial for me to score well tomorrow (Thursday). I know that refining this aspect is key to my overall performance.”

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