JEROME DELARIARTESilang, Cavite, May 14, 2003 - - Defending champion Jerome Delariarte 
turned in a one-over-par 72 under difficult playing conditions at the 
Langer course of the Riviera golf complex Tuesday to grab the lead in the 
36-hole stroke play eliminations of the Philippine Amateur golf 
championship here.

Back-to-back birdies from No. 14 highlighted the 24-year-old Delariarte's 
windup as he saved a round of 36-36 for a one-shot lead over veteran Tommy 
Manotoc. Soaring scores marred the opening round of the six-day 
championship with majority of the competitors struggling at the par-71 
layout which proved to be as tough as it can be.

Juvic Pagunsan, the player touted to foil Delariarte's title-retention bid, 
shot himself in the foot with a 79 for a share of 18th to 31st places, 
needing to come up with a respectable round Wednesday to make it to the top 
32 and the matchplay phase.

Artemio Murakami, who stunned a star-studded field to become the youngest 
national champion at age 15 at Wack Wack in 1999, also had an eight-over 
card (42-37). Murakami, still grieving over the gruesome death of his 
father, dropped six strokes on his way home at the frontside.

Delariarte, who outlasted now-Asian PGA Tour campaigner Angelo Que in a 
gruelling 36-hole finale to win last year's edition of the event at the Dye 
course of Eagle Ridge in Cavite, had three birdies on a hot but windy day, 
the first on the par-5 No. 10 that negated his opening hole bogey. But he 
bogeyed Nos. 11 and 12 and dropped another stroke on No. 14 before coming 
up with that back-to-back birdies that shoved him past Manotoc.

The spearhead of many Canlubang bids in the PAL Interclub, Manotoc mixed 
three birdies with three bogeys and a double-bogey on the par-4 No. 9 as he 
carded a two-over par 73 in what could be his strongest start in the event 
sponsored by DHL, the Philippine Golf Foundation, WWWExpress and DHL Worldwide.

Jaye Escuadro took solo third with 73 while Dave Hernandez stood at 75 in 
the company of Raymund Sangil. Lyndon Barril shot a 76 while eight players 
were at 78, including Marvin Dumandan, JR Tanpinco and Gene Bondoc.

The other 79 scorers include Tonton Asistio, Jose Mari Hechanova, Juami 
Rocha and Hanson So, while Abe Rosal, who ran away with the DHL Open title 
in Canlubang in February, was far behind at 81.

The aspirants resume their hunt for the top 32 berths Wednesday in the 
final 18 holes of the stroke-play eliminations with the matchplay event to 
start Thursday until Sunday. The finalists will slug it out for this year's 
crown in a marathon 36-hole duel. (Malaya)

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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