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Down Under bets sizzle

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Australia poised itself to re-claiming the Asia-Pacific Senior Amateur Championship crown, assembling a 298 to hike its lead to 14 over Japan as the Philippines continued to struggle after two rounds at the Alabang Country Club in Muntinlupa yesterday.

Gordon Claney rebounded from a 78 with a 73 to spearhead the Aussies’ second day charge with Stefan Albinski carding a 74 and first-day top scorer Greg Rhodes slowing down with a 75 after a 73 and Ian Frost chipping in a 76.

That gave Australia a 36-hole aggregate of 597, counting its earlier 299, and a big 14-point cushion over Japan, which turned in a 300 for a 611, while Korea also bounced back from a 312 with a 302 to remain at third at 614.

Last year’s champion New Zealand likewise struck back with a 307 but still stood far behind at 623 while Hong Kong, led by Douglas Williams’ 73, stayed at fifth at 629.

The hosts farther reeled with the withdrawal of Mari Hechanova after six holes as they pooled a 328 on Rolly Viray and Allan Alegre’s pair of 81s, Benjie Sumulong’s 82 and Abe Avena’s 84 for a 654, 57 shots off Australia at sixth in the six-to-play, four-to-count format event sanctioned by the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation and hosted and co-organized by the National Golf Association of the Philippines. Richie Garcia, who counted with an 83 Wednesday, didn’t fare with an 86.

Pakistan made a 324 for a 658 while Singapore had a 672 after a 330 and India totaled a 673 after a 327 in the 54-hole tournament sponsored by the MVP Sports Foundation, San Miguel Corp., Smart, PLDT, Cleveland, Srixon, the Philippine Sports Commission, Tourism Promotions Board Philippines, and the Department of Tourism.

But while the team race appears to be in the bag for Australia, the battle for the individual crown remains as tight as ever with four players tied at 148, two just a stroke behind and one another shot farther back.

Albinski, who led the Aussies to the 2014 crown in Hong Kong, and new member Rhodes are tied with Japanese Tomio Otomo and Hong Kong’s Williams at four-over total with Frost and Japan’s Takashi Kamei at 150 and Aussie Gordon Claney, also a member of the 2015 champion team, at 151.

The Philippines’ Team B of Dave Hernandez (81), Chito Laureta (84), Rudy Amata (87) and Kit Angeles (87) kept the lead in the international team play with a 672 after a 339, 28 shots ahead of Hong Kong B, which had a 343 for a 700, while Australia B made a 708 after a 347.

Williams, who birdied four of the first seven holes but faltered with four bogeys in the last 11, Rhodes and Otomio also shared the lead in the individual competition for Group A (55-59) with Frost at fourth while Albinski surged ahead in Group B (60-64), two shots up on Kamei. Japanese Kiyoshi Miyamoto virtually clinched the Group C title (65-69) with a 153 after a 74, 14 strokes ahead of Bernard Chan and Viray, who had 167s after 78 and 81, respectively, while Hong Kong’s Joseph Pethes grabbed a four-shot lead in Group D (70-and-above) with a 161 after a 79 with Junkee Lee of Korea at 165 after an 86.

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