TOKYO – Juvic Pagunsan turned in a five-under-par 66 and trailed hot-starting Austrian Sepp Straka by three shots in the weather-delayed first round of golf competition in the Tokyo Games Thursday at the Kasumigaseki Country Club in Saitama, Japan.
The pride of Bacolod gunned down six birdies against a lone bogey as the sport made its second stint in the Olympics after its return during the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The 43-year-old Pagunsan, the second Filipino to play in the Olympics after Miguel Tabuena finished tied for 5th to 6th places with Joachim Hansen of Denmark and Jhonattan Vegas of Venezuela – thanks to his iron play and solid ball control.
Tabuena saw action in the 2016 Rio Olympics,
Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond is a stroke behind Straka while Thomas Pieters of Belgium and Carlos Ortiz of Mexico are tied for 3rd to 4th places with similar 65.
Pagunsan, who has played in the par-71 golf course as a regular competitor in the Japan PGA Tour, hopes to sustain his good performance as he tees off at 9:03 a.m. in the second round Friday.
Though he’s wearing a PH cap, Pagunsan’s shirt was without the country’s logo.
He will be on the same flight with Fabrizio Zanotti of Paraguay and Zimbabwe’s Scott Vincent.
The par-71 layout took a severe beating in the absence of the wind and in the face of the select field’s brilliant shotmaking.
The big guns, however, were overshadowed by the lesser lights.
Nowhere to be found in the Top 10 was No. 3 Collin Morikawa, who was coming off a British Open victory.
The Japanese ace managed a 69 for joint 20th with four-time major winner Rory McIlroy and US Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama.
World No. 5 Xander Schauffele and Patrick Reed emerged as the leading scorers for Team USA with 68s. (Waylon Galvez)