Golf Tour

Hot finish puts Wong in the hunt; Pinay bets hobble

Paolo Wong overcame a shaky frontside start with a blistering backside finish, birdying four of the last nine holes to save a 70 for joint third, just a stroke behind Vietnam’s Khanh Hung Le and Malcolm Hung of Malaysia at the start of golf competitions in the 32nd Southeast Asian Games Monday in Phnom Penh.

Wong struggled trying to figure out the Garden City’s tough layout but when he did, there was no stopping the ace shotmaker from La Trinidad, Benguet. He birdied the first two holes at the back to negate a frontside 38 then birdied Nos. 14 and 16 to close out with a 32 and in strong contention for the individual gold in men’s play.


Le and Hung matched 69s with the former gunning down three backside birdies and the latter posting a solid 34 while Thai Jiradech Chaowarat and Anh Minh Nguyen, also of Vietnam, matched Wong’s two-under card output.

Rayhan Latief of Indonesia and Thai Ashita Paimkulvanick shot identical 71s while four others, led by favorite Ratchanon Chantananuwat of Thailand, matched par 72s and another four, including Filipino Enrique Dimayuga, scoring similar 73s.
While Wong banked on a strong finish, Dimayuga squandered a hot birdie-birdie start as he bogeyed Nos. 5 and 6 then put to naught another birdie on the 14th with closing back-to-back bogeys, ending up with a 73 for a share of 12th in a field of 32.

Jaden Dumdumaya, on the other hand, shot two birdies but fumbled with five bogeys, marred by back-to-back mishaps from Nos. 8 and 13, as he signed a 75 to fall to joint 19th while many-time national team spearhead Aidric Chan hobbled at the finish, yielding four straight strokes from No. 13 as he wound up with a 76 for a share of 22nd.

In women’s play, Rianne Malixi came undone with a double-bogey on No. 6 that marred a wobbly frontside finish as she wound up with a two-over 74 and slipped to joint ninth with teammate Lois Kaye Go, seven strokes off Malaysian Ng Jing Xuen.

Eager to put up a strong start to fan a medal drive, Malixi did just that with birdies on Nos. 11 and 12 from short range and stood just behind Singapore’s Aloysa Atienza (34) with a backside 35 after dropping a stroke on the 15th.

But she failed to get up and down on the first hole and after a wave of pars, she yielded two strokes on the Garden City Golf course’s signature hole, the tough 439-yard No. 6 with a water hazard on the left side of the fairway and another lake looming large right in front of the green.


A birdie-less frontside led to a 39 and the ICTSI-backed Malixi, who delivered the bronze medal in team play in her SEAG debut in Vietnam last year, tumbled to ninth with Go, who put up a pair of 37s she spiked with an eagle-3 on No. 17 and a birdie on No. 4 against five bogeys.

Mafy Singson hit two birdies but made five bogeys as she fell to joint 14th in a field of 21 with Malaysian Geraldine Wong with 75.

Xuen actually settled for a backside 36 but birdied the first two holes at the turn, gained two more strokes on Nos. 4 and 5 then birdied the par-3 seventh to close out with a tournament-best 31 and a 67, stealing the first day spotlight from fancied Thai Eila Galitsky, who fired a 69.

Galitsky, the reigning Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific champion, likewise found her range and rhythm late but just in time to produce a three-under and stay just two strokes off the hot-starting Xuen.

Galitsky birdied four of the last five holes, including the last three, as she battled from a one-over card after 12 holes to put herself in strong contention for the individual gold in the 54-hole championship.

After a two-under backside card, Atienza stumbled with a bogey on No. 8 for a 37 and a 71 for solo third while Foong Zi Yu, also of Malaysia, Thai Navaporn Soontreeyapas and Elaine Widjaja of Indonesia matched par 72s for a share of fifth followed by Thai Prim Prachnakorn and Indonesia’s Kristina Yoko, who carded identical 73s.

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