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Hernandez ahead by 5 at Riviera MVPSF Amateur Championship

SILANG, Cavite – Jet Hernandez turned in a gutsy two-over 73 in tough conditions at Riviera’s Langer course yesterday as he upstaged a slew of fancied rivals to post a huge five-stroke lead over Josh Jorge Friday at the start of the Riviera MVPSF Amateur Championship here.

JET Hernandez (right) takes a 5-shot lead over Josh Jorge (left) at the start of the Riviera MVPSF Amateur Championship.

JET Hernandez (right) takes a 5-shot lead over Josh Jorge (left) at the start of the Riviera MVPSF Amateur Championship.

Hernandez fought back from a one-birdie, three-bogey game at the front with three birdies against a bogey in the first four holes at the back but he failed to sustain his charge to the finish, dropping strokes on Nos. 14 and 16 that somewhat enabled his rivals to come within striking distance after succumbing in a challenging day at the hazard-laden par-71 layout.

Jorge never recovered from his two bogeys and a double bogey in the first three holes and limped with a 78 but still took the challenger’s role as Dan Cruz hobbled with a 79 and recent Northern Luzon Regional winner and SEA Games-bound Sean Ramos shot himself in the foot with two 40s for an 80.

Joining Ramos at fourth are Paolo Barro, Miguel Ilas and Korean Jung Jaehyun while Kim Tae Soo, also from Korea and Santino Laurel hobbled with identical 81s to fall eight strokes off Hernandez in the 54-hole tournament sponsored by the MVP Sports Foundation wand backed by PLDT Group, Cignal and Metro Pacific Investments.

The rest of the 30 starters lay too far behind with Lee Sang Min and fellow Korean Rho Hyun Ho and Masaichi Otake fumbling with 83s and Robert Manalo and Joachim Yu matched 84s in one of the country’s toughest courses.

But the title chase in the women’s side of the annual event organized and conducted by the National Golf Association of the Philippines could head to a down-to-the-wire finish as Korean Kim Seo Yun and Rianne Malixi turned in a pair of 74s to share the lead and Junia Gabasa stood just behind with 76.

With Kwon Min Seo carding a 77, Laurea Duque scoring a 78 and Hee Yeon Bang putting in a 79, the battle couldn’t get any tighter with Kim out to get back at Malixi, who foiled her back-to-back title drive in the Northern Luzon Regional at Luisita two weeks ago.

Malixi, in pursuit of a fourth crown this year, actually took charge with a 35 start but stumbled with three bogeys in a birdie-less backside stint, ending up with a two-over card while Kim which snatching the solo lead with a last-hole bogey for a pair of 37s.

But looming large is Gabasa, who stayed within sight of the joint leaders despite a pair of 38s marred by six bogeys against two bogeys.

Also on tap are the Special Division (for boys’ and girls’ 12-years-old-and-below) which serves as part of NGAP’s grassroots program, the Mid Amateur category and the seniors section. For details, visit www.ngaponline.net or www.facebook.com/ngap.circle or call NGAP at (02) 7065926.