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JPGT Luzon Series I: Sarines storms back; Zaragosa scores

LAUREL, Batangas – Vito Sarines demonstrated remarkable grit and determination, battling back from eight strokes down to edge out Race Manhit in a thrilling finish and snatch a one-shot victory in the boys’ 11-14 age category of the Junior Philippine Golf Tour Luzon Series I at the Splendido Taal Golf Club here Thursday.

Despite initially struggling with rounds of 90 and 89, Sarines remained hopeful. Starting with a bogey on No. 10, he bounced back with an eagle-par-birdie run from No. 11 in a flight ahead of Manhit, then weathered a challenging five-bogey stretch over eight holes from No. 15.

He closed out with five gutsy pars, finishing with an impressive round of 75, ultimately claiming the title with a 254 total over 54 holes.

Sarines had no awareness of his standing during the final round, allowing him to play with virtually no pressure.

“I had no idea of my position and only learned that I had won after holing out,” said Sarines, who sank a 15-yard putt for eagle on the par-5 11th. “Going to the 18th, I told myself that I needed to make par to have a chance at winning.”

Manhit, who led by one stroke over Inigo Gallardo after 36 holes, maintained his lead or shared it throughout most of the round. He briefly pulled ahead of Sarines in the last flight with a birdie on No. 6. But a costly double bogey on the next hole dimmed his chances, as Sarines parred the last four holes.

Manhit ended up with an 84, setting for second place with a 255 total, while Gallardo placed third with a 263 after a 91.

In the girls’ 11-14 division, Precious Zaragosa fended off a spirited challenge from twins Mona and Lisa Sarines to clinch a four-stroke victory, closing with a 76 for a 231.

Zaragosa maintained her two-stroke lead over Lisa Sarines after 36 holes by making crucial birdies to offset some struggles at the front, including a double-bogey on No. 4. She then pounced on Mona Sarines’ double-bogey and bogey on Nos. 12 and 13, respectively, finishing with a birdie and two bogeys at the back to seal her commanding win.

“I’m happy to win this tournament as part of my preparation for the Junior World in July,” said Zaragosa. “I learned a lot here, especially that I need to