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Flores rallies past Locsin, claims JPGT title

June 20, 2024 People's Tonight 185 views
Flores: Boys’ 10-12 champion.

ILOILO – Kurt Flores produced a remarkable comeback in a day filled with dominant title runs, overcoming an eight-stroke deficit to defeat Isaac Locsin and claim the boys’ 10-12 crown by four with a 94 in the ICTSI Junior Philippine Golf Tour Iloilo Visayas Series at the Iloilo Golf Club here.

Despite the daunting deficit, Flores methodically worked his way back into contention, ultimately seizing control with a frontside 46 as Locsin stumbled with a 57.

However, a shaky start on the back nine allowed Locsin to close the gap to just one stroke with six holes remaining. This set the stage for a thrilling stretch-run duel, testing both players’ nerve and poise.

But Flores, a local talent, withstood Locsin’s determined fightback, banking on a crucial three-shot swing on the par-3 13th with a scrambling par against Locsin’s triple-bogey, leading to a four-stroke victory on a 193 total in the most fiercely contested title disputed over 36 holes in hot, humid conditions.

Locsin, from Bacolod, finished with a 106 for a 197, while Luigi Alvarez placed third with a 232 after a 114 in the first of three tournaments in the Visayas swing of the nationwide series sponsored by ICTSI and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.

Manila-based Cailey Gonzales achieved a wire-to-wire triumph in the girls’ 10-12 category, assembling an impressive 149 after a five-over 75 to overwhelm Kelsey Bernardino and Zuri Bagaloyos, who matched 166s after 79 and 85, respectively.

In the 8-9 class, Cebuana’s Eliana Mendoza showcased a commanding performance in the girls’ division, recording a sterling 71 to finish with a 153, far outpacing Ana Marie Aguilar, who scored a 119 for a total of 240.

Jess Alburo also dominated the boys’ division, posting a 185 total after a 94 and overwhelming Grover Sinfuego, who made a 117 for a 235.

The competition in the 13-15 category, meanwhile, produced contrasting results. Inno Flores maintained a four-stroke lead despite an 81 for a 160 although Luciano Copok fought back with a 77 to tie Dannuo Zhu, who also made an 81, at 164, ensuring a furious final round battle in the 54-hole tournament.

“I leaned on my driving and fairway wood shots to compensate for my struggles with the irons,” said Inno Flores, who also emphasized the importance of delivering his best performance while minimizing mistakes.

Alexie Gabi, meanwhile, positioned herself for a runaway victory in the girls’ 13-15 division, carding an 80 for a 162 and pulling away by 16 shots over Tiffany Bernardino with 18 holes to play. Bernardino struggled with an 86 for a 178, while Rane Chiu pooled a 184 after a 90.

Gabi relied on her exceptional short game to maintain a gap between herself and her competitors, while also committing to improve her overall performance in pursuit of the title.

“My pitching and putting were on point. As I mentioned after the first round, I planned to capitalize on them…and I did,” said Gabi. “I aim to improve my score and hope to win the championship.”

In the premier 16-18 category, first-day leader John Rey Oro extended his lead to eight after a 71 on a three-birdie, four-bogey card for a 147 even as twin brother John Paul charged back with a 74 to tie Eddie Gonzales, Jr., who carded a 76, at 155 with 36 holes to play.

“My game is better compared to yesterday (first round) because I had a good start,” said John Ray, a Bacolod native, in Pilipino. He birdied the first two holes on the back nine where he teed off, then halted a four-bogey slide over a seven-hole stretch starting from No. 13 with a birdie on the sixth hole.

In the girls’ 16-18 division, Rhiena Sinfuego overcame an anxious start with a 96 Monday, rebounding with an 85 to post a two-day total of 181. Her performance was bolstered by the struggles of fellow Santa Barbara native Necky Tortosa, who fumbled with a 111 after a 102, falling far behind at 213. Blessy Solinap also stumbled with a 114 for a 244.

“Actually, I’ve somewhat improved, so I’m happy because I lost the nervousness I had on the first day,” said Rhiena Sinfugeo, who also stressed the need for consistency in the final 36 holes.