CANLUBANG, March 29, 2006 (MALAYA) Former national amateur champion Jun Bernis set in motion his bid for a second DHL-WWWExpress National Amateur golf crown in three years by firing a three-under par 69 Tuesday for a two-stroke lead over fellow club bet Ronnie Torrecampo here.

Bernis, who beat now-pro Juvic Pagunsan by four shots to rule the 2004 staging of the annual event, leaned on a flawless stint at the backside of Cangolf’s north course he highlighted with back-to-back birdies on Nos. 13 and 14 as he completed rounds of 35-34 on the course he calls home.

Torrecampo, another Cangolf mainstay who went two-under after 15 holes, settled for 71 on rounds of 35-36 in a tie with Mark Fernando. Torrecampo failed to rescue par on the tough par-4 16th.

"Medyo binuwenas lang at maganda ang umpisa. Sana magtuloy-tuloy ito," said the soft-spoken Bernis, whose victory here in 2004 spurred him to also win the Philippine Amateur golf crown the same year.

Bernis, 32, lost his winning touch last year and dished out so-so performances, including a ninth-place finish here when Pagunsan won in runaway fashion.

Unfancied Ferdinand Aunzo birdied Nos. 8 and 9 to pace the foreign-flavored field in the early goings. But he dropped three strokes in his first five holes at the back and needed a birdie on the 17th to salvage an even-par 34-38 card.

Quincy Quek, a member of the Singapore team that placed second to the Philippine squad in last year’s SEA Games, took the cudgels for the visiting players by shooting a 73 marred by three bogeys. He shared fifth place with top local jungolfer Tonton Asistio who also had rounds of 36-37.

Jay Bayron, one of the fancied bets in the 11th staging of the event sponsored by DHL and WWWExpress and conducted by the National Golf Association of the Philippines, fumbled with a double-bogey 7 right on No. 2 and spent the hot, windy day chasing fellow club bets Bernis and Torrecampo. He wound up with a 74 in a tie for seventh with Nomura Cup veteran Erwin Vinluan.

Boyet Saragoza and former Singapore Amateur Open champion Michael Bibat led players who scored 75 while Marvin Dumandan had a 76 in a tie with Singaporean Jonathan Leong and National Caddies Open winner Jessie Balasabas.

Meanwhile, the 54-hole ladies competition starts Wednesday with teenager Debbie de Villa out to annex a second crown after humbling a star-studded field in the RP Ladies Open Championship at the Manila Golf Club early in the year.

Out to foil her bid are Lora Roberto, Anya Tanpinco, Crystal Superal, Paulina Sotto, Mia Piccio and Cyna Rodriguez.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved