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Mandanas up by 2 strokes

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Aniceto Mandanas rode on a four-birdie binge in the early going to cushion the impact of a faltering windup, settling for a one over 72 and a two-stroke lead over Aidric Chan and Richnell Albano at the start of the NGAP Northern Luzon Regional Golf Championship at the Beverly Place Golf Club in Pampanga yesterday.

Mandanas actually stumbled with a bogey on the par-3 second but ran off four straight birdies from No. 3 to seize control of the 18-player field in the centerpiece Elite Amateur (Men’s) division of the event sponsored by the MVP Sports Foundation, Smart, PLDT and MPIC.

But he wavered at the tricky backside of the par-71 bunker-laden layout, hobbling with three bogeys and a double bogey and needing to birdie the short par-5 18th to save a 31-41 card and stay two shots clear of Chan and Albano, who turned in a pair of 34-40 cards.

Rupert Zaragoza, the pre-tournament favorite, made a decent frontside 35 but lost his touch and focus at the back, ending up with a 43 to tumble to joint sixth at 78, six strokes adrift. The national champion and former junior titlist made back-to-back double bogeys from No. 10 and had two more bogeys in a birdie-less backside stint.

But Harmie Constantino lived up to the pre-tournament hype, also shooting a 72 to open a five-shot lead over Korean Shin Seo Yun, who carded a 77 while Kristine Torralba shot an 80 in the Elite Amateur women’s side of the event organized and conducted by the National Golf Association of the Philippines.

A recent winner on the ladies pro circuit and member of the victorious Philippine team in the recent World Junior Girls in Canada, Constantino bucked a bogey-bogey start with birdies on Nos. 3 and 7 then stumbled with two more bogeys at the back against a final hole birdie for a 34-38 card.

Jose Antonio Narciso, meanwhile, took command in the men’s division Group I with a 76 for a one-shot lead over August Cruz with Francis Telan at third with a 79 and Alan Alegre, Lisandro Opulencia and Francis Lanuza all carding 80s for joint fourth.

Ricardo Loyola, on the other hand, made an 83 to post a three-stroke lead over Matias Pineda Jr. and Jere Fregil, who turned in identical 86s, in Group II with Alain Canapi at fourth with an 87 and Manny Luzon shooting an 88 for fifth.

Jets Sajulga bogeyed the final hole and slid to fourth in the elite men’s with a 75 while Jolo Magcalayo laying another stroke back at 76.

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