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Suzuki, Abalos triumph in JPGT Luzon Series I golf tilt

MANILA, Philippines – Ryuji Suzuki and Maurysse Abalos shone brightly in the Junior Philippine Golf Tour Luzon Series, pulling off thrilling victories in the 8-10 age category with 79 and 95, respectively, at the Splendido Taal Golf Club Wednesday.

Suzuki blew a six-shot lead but maintained his composure in the stretch of a pressure-packed frontside finish in another sweltering day here. He capitalized on Jose Luis Espinosa’s costly bogey on No. 7 to pound out a one-stroke victory in the boys’ division despite a seven-over card for a 36-hole total of 157.

Espinosa made a strong comeback, narrowing the gap to four strokes with a backside start of 38 and then birdied No. 2. He forced a tie at 13-over with four holes left as Suzuki struggled with three bogeys in a four-hole stretch from the second hole.

Suzuki, however, regained the lead as Espinosa bogeyed No. 7 for the second straight day. Matching Espinosa’s pars on the last two holes, Suzuki secured the victory and, with Abalos, earned the honor of being the first champions of the JPGT series.

“It’s feels nice and it’s an honor to win in this tournament,” said the 10-year-old Suzuki.

Espinosa, who bounced back from an opening 84 with a 74, ended in second place with a 158, while Kevin Tecson finished third with a 196 after a 96.

Ranking points are awarded in each leg of the series, with the top four players in the boys’ and girls’ divisions after the seven-leg Luzon swing qualifying for the JPGT Match Play Championship at The Country Club in October.

The tournament, organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments Inc., aims to boost the sport and discover new talents through its country-wide circuit, including three legs in the Visayas and four in Mindanao.

In girls’ division of the youngest age category, Abalos overcame a significant challenge. Despite a shaky backside 51, she pounced on Casedy Chime Cuenca’s consecutive triple bogeys from No. 1, cruising to a four-stroke victory with a 95 and a 184.

“I feel so great. It’s my first accomplishment for the year,” said the 9-year-old Abalos, a Saint Pedro Poveda student who has already claimed six championships in her young career.

Cuenca finished with a 90 for a 188,