Guido Van Der Valk, a Dutchman who calls the Philippines home, fired a 5-under-par 66 yesterday for a one-stroke lead over Cebu amateur hotshot LJ Go after the first 18 holes of the ICTSI Palos Verdes Classic in Davao.
Van Der Valk, whose best finish in a local tournament was second to Elmer Salvador in the 2009 Philippine Open at Malarayat, had six birdies against a closing bogey and found himself leading a tournament in the local circuit for the first time in his career.
Go, the Cebu Country Club star in the PAL Interclub, had seven birdies but had a double bogey on No. 14 and a bogey two holes later to settle for a 33-34 card even as 20 others cracked par on a hot scoring day.
Jay Bayron, Michael Bibat, Anthony Fernando and Dante Becierra all checked in with 68s. Former Philippine team spearhead Mark Fernando and the fancied Elmer Salvador led a seven-man group that fired 69s.
Big guns Antonio Lascuña and Frankie Miñoza returned level 71s to be five behind in the event backed by Nike Golf, Empire Golf and Sports Shop, Mizuno, Titleist, Srixon, Foot Joy, Callaway, Pacsports, Custom Clubmakers, Cleveland Golf and Sharp.
“Despite that bogey, I had a solid day and didn’t really encounter trouble,” said the 33-year-old Van Der Valk, who hit three birdies at the back where he started his round.
Van Der Valk, a close friend of former Philippine Open champion Rick Gibson, had it at six-under after his final birdie on the seventh, but he pulled his drive on the ninth, needing to play out of the rough and settling for a bogey.
“I know there are a lot of good players behind me so I just have to play better each day,” said Van Der Valk, the Q-School winner this year.
Go was at six-under through his first 13 holes before encountering trouble and paying dearly for it.
Salvado had five birdies but signed for an uncharacteristic double bogey 5 on No. 11 and two more bogeys.