MANILA — Former junior golf champion John Catalan finished second overall in Division 1 of the World Amateur Golfers Invitational (WAGI) category of the World Amateur Golfers Championship (WAGC) on Friday in Phuket, Thailand.
Catalan carded a final round of five-over par 77 to cap an impressive performance.
He put together a four-day total score of 293, just a stroke behind Finland’s Klmmo Hyvarinen, who finished with 292. Mariusz Czerkawski of Poland placed third overall at 296.
Catalan matched the 2017 first runner-up finish of Tonito Payumo in Division 1 of WAGC. However, he came short of becoming the second Filipino to win the WAGC, which Payumo did in 2018.
“Masarap sa pakiramdam knowing that you represented the country well. It was bittersweet, however, because I came up short of winning the championship,” said Catalan.
“It was a tough tournament because all participants played in four tough golf courses. We actually played six straight days, which included two days of practice rounds. Still, it feels good that the efforts were rewarded by making it to the podium,” he added.
A registered nurse in the United States, the 28-year-old Catalan had an opening round of three-over par 75. Then he came through with a 71 the next day and a 70 the following day to move up to the top spot of the leaderboard for four-shot lead on James Oliver Yeomans of United Arab Emirates.
A pair of double bogeys on 14 and 15 had him seven-over on his final round score. He still finished strong, birdying on 16 and 17 before he saved par on 18 to close with a 77.
Hyvarinen, who was five strokes behind going to the final round after a 68-81-71 rounds, matched his third round one-under 71 to win the title by one stroke – and deny Catalan the title.
“I will try again next year, go to the qualifiers again but I’ll make sure I’m prepared, 100 percent healthy,” said Catalan, who dislocated his left shoulder two weeks ago during a practice round.
Participants played in four golf courses in Phuket, including Laguna Golf, Red Mountain Golf Club, Blue Canyon Country Club, and Aquella Golf and Country Club.
Other members of the Philippine contingent in WAGI (via a invitation) category also did well, including Vicky Herrera (28th, Division 2), Joy Bagaloyos (2nd, Division 3), Lian, Batangas Vice Mayor Ronin Leviste (22nd, Division 3), Camarines Sur District 5 congressman Miguel Villafuerte (44th, Division 3), Batangas Vice Governor Mark Leviste (10th, Division 4), Mark Matsuyama (12th, Division 5) and Errol Chua (13th, Division 5).
In the WAGC (players who made the team through qualifiers), Abraham Avena placed 22nd in Division 1, Joseph Oliver Uy ranked 4th in Division 2, John Paul Gutierrez finished 18th in Division 3, Marinelle Sales was 8th in Division 4 and Atty. Marven Pañares 9th in Division 5.
Team Philippines placed 13th overall, while the tandem of Catalan and Leviste placed 10th, Bagaloyos and Herrera 22nd, Chua and Matsuyama 34th, and Villafuerte and Leviste (R) 48th.