No weekend play for Angelo Que

Sorry folks, Angelo Que did not make the cut.

He won a consolation prize though – valuable experience!

He actually started his second round at the British Golf Open quite brilliantly. A birdie at the 5th after a string of four opening pars placed him tied at the top 50 players. At this point, he was four strokes better than his start the previous day. Then lightning struck, literally and figuratively. By 12:30 (BST) the rain started and Angelo Que went bogey-bogey-double bogey-bogey-bogey in the next five holes. This washed away his chances into the frigid Atlantic coast at the Royal Birkdale.

He ended up with 78 for a 14 over total that placed him at 127th in the company of notables Angel Cabrera, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Rod Pampling and Rory Sabbatini.

KJ Choi has taken the lead with a 67 for the only player at sub-par -1. Fifteen players are within 5 strokes of the leader, including former champ Greg Norman who was steady with a second consecutive round of 70. Because of the weather, however, the field is wide open for the 83 golfers going into the weekend play. Incidentally, both Phil Mickelson and past champion Ernie Els, who had disastrous opening rounds, made the cut.

Well, as for our local hero, there is always silver lining hidden behind those dark clouds in England. I am sure that he would treasure the experience of playing in the majors and be a better and wiser golfer back home in the ASEAN and Asian Tours.

Read his account of his first day here.

5:14 a.m.

Angelo Que better than past champs

Filipino ace Angelo Que made a remarkable start at his maiden major tournament at the 137th British Open Golf championships last night (RP Time).

After opening with a bogey with the jitters I suppose, he evened the next two holes and found himself sharing the leaderboard at No. 8. Even for just this brief moment, he was in the Top 10!

As it was past midnight, I went to bed with a happy smile with this in my dream:

I woke up this morning feeling even happier. Angelo Que survived the cold, wet and windy playing condition at the Royal Birkdale. He finished at 6 over for 76 with late birdies on Holes No. 15, 17 and 18. The worst scores were 15 over. My hats off!

He is 7 strokes off the leaders and is tied at 74th place in the upper half of the 154-man field. He is in the company of 1989 champion Mark Calcavecchia and is better than four other past titleholders. 1997 champ Justin Leonard was at 77, 2003 winner Ben Curtis was at 78, 1995 titleholder John Daly and 2002 champion Ernie Els were at 80. Sandy Lyle, winner in 1985, retired after only 10 holes.

He is also better than other notables like Phil Mickelson who had a 79 and Vijay Singh who had an 80.

Angelo Que had 3 birdies, seven pars, seven bogeys and 1 double bogey. I hope he can play better today to make the cut and swing his way to Pinoy golf glory.

5:50 a.m.

Bragging trophy for Angelo Que

Even before he tees off for the 137th British Golf Championships today, I consider Angelo Que already a winner. His trophy – the bragging rights as the first Filipino golfer to qualify for this prestigious major.

Little is known of this Filipino ace in The Open. Angelo Que was the last qualifier in the Asian leg of the international qualifying tournaments early this year. He is the leader in the ASEAN Order of Merit and has two wins in the Asian Tour, this year’s Philippine Open and the 2004 Carlsberg Masters Vietnam.

The Philippines is not exactly a golfing nation, where the game is still considered a preserve for the elite. In fact, there are no public golf courses in the country. Although some are in public lands like military camps but their operations are for club members and their guests only.

Here in Davao, we have four courses – Apo, Matina, Palos Verdes and Lanang, which unfortunately is closing at the end of this month. But worry not. South Pacific at Catalunan Grande is now under construction.

Yet, the Philippines has a very successful junior golf program that always do good in international tournaments such as this one in California.

And many high government officials are into the game as if the nation is not in crisis.

Tiger Woods would not be in Birkdale today but the field is as star-studded. Angelo Que will be among the last to tee off. I hope that this does not mean that he would be at the tail end after the rounds. I pray that he would play well enough to make the cut. That would be another boast for him.

In the US Open last month, the Filipino qualifier Artemio Murakami did not only miss the cut, but he landed sadly  at the bottom of the board.

Filipino golfers need miracle shots like this one to make an impact in the majors.

5:35 a.m.

Sunday sports

I woke up early this morning just in time for the closing minutes of the Euro 2008 finals. Spain succeeded in preserving its first half lead against Germany to finally win its first major title in 44 years.

Fernando no doubt is now the most popular name in Spain and many newly born boys would be named after the hero – Fernando Torres who scored the lone goal.

Viva España!

Talking of heroes, local sensation Manny Pacquiao scored another knockout – flooring WBC lightweight champion David Diaz and bagging his fourth boxing belt. He’s the only Asian boxer to achieve this feat thereby making him a true boxing great.

In golf, it was another sorry second place finish for rising Filipino ace Juvic Pagunsan at the Singha Thailand PGA Championship. Juvic led in the second round and was tied for the lead going into yesterday’s final round. The miss was a repeat of his struggles in last year’s Volvo Masters and the previous year’s UBS Hong Kong when he had to settle for No. 2.

7:33 a.m.