Juvic Pagunsan (photo above): One-shot shy of course record —CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Juvic Pagunsan lit up the Masters course on Friday, gunning down an eagle and seven birdies on the way to an eight-under-par 64 and a four-stroke lead in individual play after the first round of the Manila Southwoods Pro-Am in Carmona, Cavite.

The enigmatic Japan Tour mainstay missed matching the course record set twice during the defunct Resorts World Manila Masters of the Asian Tour after he dropped his only shot on the par-3 fifth hole. His sterling play led his team made up of Senate President Tito Sotto, his brother Maru and Bing Lapus to the low gross lead with a 61.

Jonel Ababa, the many-time winner on the Philippine Golf Tour, returned as 68 to be tied with Albin Engino with the trio of Fidel Concepcion, Justin Quiban and Dino Villanueva trailing another shot back.

Pagunsan’s eagle came on the layout’s signature hole, the par-4 9th where he holed a wedge from 80 yards, which boosted his team to a two-shot lead over the Ababa-led squad that also had Jude Eustaquio, Jet Mathay and Miguel Ochoa in the low gross team race.

Pagunsan, who represented the Philippines in the Tokyo Olympics last year, drained five of his birdies in the back nine for a 33-31 effort that fell just a stroke short of the record which Thailand’s Prom Meesawat and Sattaya Supupramai chalked up in the 2014 and 2016 editions of the Manila Masters.

Action shifts to the relatively easier Legends layout on Saturday where the team race will be concluded, before the pros battle for individual honors on Sunday when they tackle the Masters again.

The tournament is being envisioned by the club and its chair, John Sobrepeña, to become an annual affair and be the best of its kind in the country and it drew some of the biggest pro names and a horde of crack amateurs that represented the country internationally several times.


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