LJ Go overpowered Joaquin Velez with a superb all-around game and ran away with a lopsided 10&9 result while Angela Mangana rallied to frustrate Junia Gabasa in a stirring finish to snare the women’s crown, 2&1, in the third MVPSF Visayas Regional Match Play Championship at the Cebu Country Club on Friday.
The top seeded Go imposed his will early on the 11th-ranked Velez, going 6-up after the first 18 holes in the morning duel then taking four more holes at resumption in the afternoon to cut short their scheduled 36-hole finale to just 27 holes.
The women’s finale, however, provided the thrill lacking in the men’s duel as Mangana, who finished at No. 2 in the 36-hole stroke play elims, battled back from 2-down in morning play then broke out from an all-square match after 27 holes by winning three of the next five.
Gabasa closed to within two with a par on the par-5 16th which Mangana, from Mactan Island Golf Club, bogeyed but the duo traded bogeys on the next, enabling the latter to clinch the victory.
Earlier, Go capped his week-long exploits with his rout of Velez, who upended Martin Mendoza on the 19th hole Thursday to gain a crack at the crown in the event sponsored by MVP Sports Foundation and held as part of the PLDT Group National Amateur Golf Tour.
Go, who topped the recent Philippine Golf Tour Q-School but decided to defer his pro debut until after the Asian Games in September, also needed an extra hole to dispose of Carl Corpus in the semis but proved too strong for Velez in the championship.
After drawing a bye in the knockout phase, the 23-year-old Go posted a pair of 5&4 triumphs over Alex Trinos and Mark Dy to seal a semis clash with Corpus while Velez worked his way up by blasting Hugo Saurat, 3&2, upending No. 6 Jovi Neri, 2&1, and toppling Juan Karloz Alba, 4&3.
The 16-year-old Mangana, on the other hand, fended off Weifang Gao, 2&1, in the quarters then subdued Irina Gabasa, 1-up, in Thursday semis while Junia Gabasa eased out Riko Nagai, 3&2, then bundled out top seed Nicole Fleetwood, 5&3, to advance to the finals of the event organized and conducted by the National Golf Association of the Philippines.
Next up is the Philippine Amateur Open Match Play Championship on April 23-27 at the Orchard Golf and Country Club in Dasmariñas, Cavite.