By Ivan Stewart Saldajeno
MANILA – Juvic Pagunsan had a solid start to his campaign in the Tokyo Olympics men’s golf event, finishing just outside of the Top 3 after the first round of competition on Thursday.
Pagunsan, the reigning Mizuno Cup champion, finished five-under-par 66, tying Joachim Hansen of Denmark and Jhonattan Vegas of Venezuela for fifth place.
The three golfers are three strokes off leader Sepp Straka of Austria, who finished with an eight-under-par 63.
Jazz Janewattananond of Thailand is second with seven-under-par 64, while Thomas Pieters of Belgium and Carlos Ortiz of Mexico are tied for third with six-under-par 65 with three rounds to play.
It was a near-flawless performance for Pagunsan in Round 1, beginning his stint with a birdie in the Par 4 Hole 1.
He also birdied Holes 6, 8, 11, 13, and 16.
Only a bogey in the Par 4 Hole 4 kept Pagunsan from moving closer to the top spot.
American golfer Justin Thomas, the top-seeded player for the event, struggled in the opening stage, just finishing even-71, good for a tie for 41st place.
Second seed Collin Morikawa had a slightly better performance than his fellow American, finishing two under-par 69 following two straight birdies in Holes 5 and 6 and another in Hole 15 that canceled out his bogey at Hole 12. (PNA)