Go takes control; Zaragosa one behind

20953273_1578367982237274_826751085501197742_nKUALA LUMPUR – Lois Kaye Go went on a birdie-binge at the backside to fire a five-under 66 and wrest a three-stroke lead over Malaysian Nur Durriyah and Thai P. Thitapa at the start of the golf competitions of the 29th SEA Games at the Mines Resort and Golf Club in Serdang here yesterday.

Go rattled off four straight birdies from No. 12 to anchor her near-flawless 35-31 card that put her on top of the women’s field, three ahead of the veteran Durriyah and Thitapa in a solid start that sparked hopes for Team Phl’s drive to duplicate its sweep of the individual and team golds in the 2013 SEAG in Myanmar.

Though the Phl trailed Thailand and Malaysia by one in team play, Harmie Constantino is expected to bounce back from a shaky 74 start together even as Junia Gabasa hobbled with a 75.

Organizers, however, have adopted a new match play format in team competition with the draw to depend on the top three scores of the team after the individual event.

Local ace Lau Ashley shot a 70 while fancied Thai Thithikul Atthaya also carded a two-under card to give their respective teams identical 139 aggregates, one ahead of the Phl, which pooled a 140.

Go, toughened up by her stints in the US Girls’ Juniors and the US Women’s Amateur where she reached the knockout stage, birdied two of the first eight holes but stumbled with a bogey on the ninth before running off birdies on Nos. 12, 13, 14 and 15.

Constantino sizzled early with three birdies in the first six holes but wavered with six bogeys the rest of the way, finishing with a 74, while Gabasa, whom the National Golf Association of the Philippines fielded in place of Yuka Saso, struggled with just one birdie against five bogeys.

Rupert Zaragosa likewise put himself in early contention in the men’s individual play as the veteran campaigner came away with a seven-under 64 to trail Thai N. Kammalas by one.

Zaragosa actually took charge with a stirring six-under 30 start, spiked by five straight birdies from No. 4 but he slowed down at the back with two birdies against a bogey while Kammalas fought back with five birdies in the last seven holes, including the last three to snatch the lead with a 63.

The other Pinoy bets, however, groped for form with Carl Corpus matching par 71, Jolo Magcalayo limping with a 77 and Paolo Wong turning in a 78.

The Thai boys proved solid with Hammamoto Kosuke and C. Witchayanon both shooting 67s and the fourth player K. Sadom carding a 69.