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Gan sisters, de Guzman, Macasaet lead JGFP winners

CAGAYAN DE ORO – Hometown bet Ralph Rian Batican and Davao leg champions Nicole and Stephanie Gan, Lucas de Guzman and Brianna Macasaet led winners in this second Mindanao meet of the Junior Golf Foundation of the Philippines (JGFP) Pueblo de Oro Junior Open on Sunday, Jan. 29 at the Pueblo de Oro Golf and Country here.

Ralph Rian Batican celebrates with mother, from left, Marian, Filipino golf legend Frankie Miñoza, his father Ralph and coach Noel Langamin after winning the 9-10 boys title in the second Mindanao meet of the Junior Golf Foundation of the Philippines (JGFP) Pueblo de Oro Junior Open on Sunday, Jan. 28 at the Pueblo de Oro Golf and Country. (JGFP Photo)

Batican fired a five-under par 67 on the final round of the tournament, a stroke better from his opening round 68 for a total of 135 to win the 9-10 boys category by 18 strokes after Davao champion Jared Saban finished with 153 after rounds of 76 and 77.

The 10-year-old Grade 5 student at Little Me Academy home school mixed his final round with six birdies, on 1, 2, 3, 7, 8 and 10, had an eagle on 12, bogeyed on 4 and a double bogey on 18. This CDO leg of the Mindanao meet was Batican’s sixth title of his young career.

“I’m very happy to win. It was tough but I’m very happy with my game,” said Batican, who gets help from Filipino golf legend Frankie Minoza with the refinement of his overall game and has Noel Langamin as his coach. A veteran of the 2022 IMG Academy Junior World Championships in the US, he was also accompanied by his parents Marian and Ralph.

On the other hand, the Gan sisters and de Guzman made it back-to-back titles following wins in the Davao leg held at Apo golf early this month and here in this part of the region.

Nicole Gan had a final round 78 for a total of 154 in the 11-12 girls to beat Isabella Tabanas, who finished with 169, while Stephanie Gan had 173 in the 6-under girls, besting Soleil Ianne Molde by two strokes as the latter had 175. De Guzman won by 33 strokes with 153 against Ethan Franco Lago’s 180 in the 6-under boys.

Macasaet, meantime, topped the 7-8 girls category with a final round 75 for a total of 156 to beat Davao champion Rafella Adrienne Batican, who had a two-day total of 176 in this event backed by John Gaisano, Gaisano Malls, Islandwide Distribution Corp. and Pueblo Golf.

Also scoring a win in the event was Alethea Gaccion, who buried an eight-foot birdie putt to beat Kiara Montebon in the fourth-hole playoff to rule the 15-18 girls. Both players ended up with 141 with Gaccion shooting a 68 and Montebon scoring a 66 – the tournament’s best round.

Jacob Gomez won the boys’ 11-12, Gunnar Lucas Velez ruled the boys’ 7-8, Zero Plete dominated the girls’ 13-14, Brittany Tamayo bagged the girls’ 11-12 title, and Clement Ordeneza emerged on top in the boys’ 13-14. Korean Youngdu Cho won the 15-18 boys’ on 143 after rounds of 71 and 72, while Rex Zaragosa climbed to second place on 145 following a 69. Cliff Richard Nuneza posted the best 36-hole score but was disqualified for signing the wrong scorecard.

“After our event in Davao City, it was another successful tournament here in Cagayan de Oro, which showed in the turnout, the performances of our young golfers and experience they gained here,” said JGFP president Oliver Gan, who expressed his gratitude to CDO junior golf chairman Ronnie Canlas and Pueblo general manager Gilby Velez for making the event possible.