Aboitiz In­vi­ta­tional: Ama­teur in the pros’ shadow

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Twenty- four- year old Charles Hong, the only Ce­buano pro, had an im­pres­sive start in the Aboitiz In­vi­ta­tional, which served as one of the legs of the Asian Devel­op­ment Tour, but it was a 16- year- old ama­teur who drew raves with a stel­lar show­ing in what was to be his fi­nal tour­na­ment in Cebu.

Hong, who would even­tu­ally win his first ti­tle in the Pue­blo de Oro Cham­pi­onships, opened with a 70 for a share of sec­ond place, but faded with a 76- 72- 79 in the fi­nal three rounds to fin­ish at 13th place with two oth­ers.

But for Gio Gan­diongco, 16, the only ama­teur to make the cut, the third round was his, af­ter he fired a siz­zling 2- un­der 69 for a tie of the fifth- best score of the day in the field of 53 pro golfers.

Gan­diongco, who left for the US last Septem­ber for his col­lege stud­ies, said, “It was a great ex­pe­ri­ence for me, mak­ing the cut, play­ing with the pros and feel­ing the kind of pres­sure they all have.” Of the 53 golfers who made the cut, only 14 play­ers shot par or bet­ter. Gan­diongco had a slow fi­nal round and shot a 77 to fin­ish just a stroke ahead of Hong at 12th place with 296.

The day, and the tour­na­ment, be­longed to Elmer Sal­vador, who turned a one- stroke lead over Tony Las­cuna into a six- shot win with an even par 71 for a 276.

Sal­vador, who earned P477,000, said his win was a prod­uct of years of train­ing, which started when he was a 17- year- old cad­die with bro­ken clubs and a bro­ken bot­tle tied to a stick as a put­ter.

“For as­pir­ing golfers, prac­tice and train. That’s it. It was not easy reach­ing where I am now but quit­ting was never an op­tion for me,” said the 42- year- old.

( CONTRIBUTED FOTO)

A GRAND PAY­DAY. Elmer Sal­vador lost his lead early but his ri­val

Tony Las­cuna failed to take ad­van­tage and the former caddy pock­eted

some P477,000 in win­ning Cebu’s big­gest golf tour­na­ment on Aug.

11, 2012.

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