TAGAYTAY CITY – Hyun Ho Rho made a run of brave pars in the last seven holes to salvage a third straight 72 then watched Toru Nakajima flounder at the finish to snatch medal honors in the Philippine Golf Tour Qualifying School at Splendido Taal yesterday.
The 18-year-old Korean slugged it out with Nakajima in a shootout in another windy day here but could only force a tie with a birdie on No. 10 before yielding the lead again with a bogey on the next. But he came through with a couple of clutch par-saves and preserved a bogey-free run to the finish to wrest control as Nakajima bogeyed Nos. 16 and 17.
He matched the Japanese closing par to snare the top honors in the 72-hole Q-School organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. on a 289 total that included an opening 73.
Nakajima, who topped the PGT elims in 2015 at Eagle Ridge and in 2016 at Royal Northwoods, wound up with his worst card in four days, a 74, and settled for second at 290 while fellow Japanese Gen Nagai, just two strokes off the lead after 54 holes, bowed out with a frontside 39 and finished third at 293.
“I’m really happy that my game was really consistent. I didn’t really made much mistakes and had good saves. So I think my game was pretty steady which helped me win this tournament,” said Hyun, who finished second to Kristoffer Arevalo in the Philippine Amateur Stroke Play Championship in April 2022 weeks after being disqualified for signing a wrong scorecard in the Philippine Junior Amateur.
This time, he made sure to put everything in order.
Former national team member Gab Manotoc, meanwhile, rebounded from a woeful third round 80 and an early frontside 38 with an eagle on the par-5 No. 10 and two birdies in the last four holes against a bogey as he rallied with a 71 and finished fifth behind Ferdie Aunzo, who pooled a 294 also after a 71, at 296.
Three other local amateurs gained cards for this year’s PGT, including Russell Bautista, who placed 11th with a 303 despite a closing 81; Arevalo, who bucked a 77 and tied for 16th at 307 with Jonas Magcalayo (78) and Leandro Bagtas (80) and pro Allan Remata (76).
Jelbert Gamolo limped with an 81 while Jeffrey Pito-on ended up with an 83 and finished tied with Kim Seong Guk, who also skied to an 82, at 34th with 316s. But the Korean had thought his final round output won’t be enough to net him one of the berths in the Top 35 and left early, giving the last two spots to the Filipino bets.
Others who made the grade were Nilo Salahog (76-297), Elmer Salvador (76-300), Hong Kong’s Michael Wong (79-301), Josh Jorge (75-302) and Japanese Atsushi Ueda (76-302), Elmer Saban (71-304), Bonifacio Salahog (78-304), Omar Dungca (73-306) and Carlos Packing (79-306).
The first leg of this year’s PGT will be held at Marapara in Bacolod for the ICTSI Negros Occidental Classic on March 15-18 with Iloilo hosting the next Visayas stop on March 22-25 for the ICTSI Iloilo Golf Challenge.