Michael Bibat and Dante Becierra fired identical four-under-par 67s yesterday to catch Dutchman Guido Van Der Valk at the top after two rounds of the ICTSI Rancho Palos Verdes Classic in Davao.
Bibat, the former Asian Games bronze medalist, picked up three shots on his last six holes to complete a 34-33 card, while the former Hong Kong Open champion Becierra had nines of 32-35 as they matched Van Der Valk’s 36-hole 135 total.
Van Der Valk, whose best finish in a local tournament was second to Elmer Salvador in the Philippine Open in 2009 at Malarayat in Lipa City, slowed down with a 69 after a 66 Wednesday.
“My short irons clicked and I have started to get used to the speed of the greens, which was the most important thing,” said Bibat, whose best finish in five years as a pro was fifth at Southwoods in 2008.
Elmer Saban, the former caddy at Apo Golf also in Davao, also had a 67 and put himself in the mix for a breakthrough pro title, his 136 moving him ahead of Jay Bayron, who carded a bogey-free 69.
Salvador also had a 68 and was at 138 like Charles Hong and Rufino Bayron, who returned a 66 and a 68, respectively, in the event also backed by Nike Golf, Empire Golf and Sports Shop, Mizuno, Titleist, Srixon, Foot Joy, Callaway, Pacsports, Custom Clubmakers, Cleveland Golf and Sharp.
“Today (yesterday) I really played nice but failed to cash in on my putts,” Van Der Valk said.
“That would have made the difference if I made some of them.”
Salvador opened with a birdie on No. 1 but bogeyed the third and fourth holes before recovering with four birdies on his last 13 holes, including three consecutive from No. 6.
Frankie Miñoza, who matched par in the first round, missed joining the group at 138 after a closing bogey on No. 9 for a 68. He dropped to fifth at 139, in a tie with the veteran Cassius Casas and Edward Reyes, who both had 68s.
Others who were at 139 were Edward Reyes, who shot a 68, and unheralded Reymon Jaraula and Rolando Marabe, who turned in a 69 and 70, respectively.
Defending champion Carl Santos-Ocampo made a 69 but remained far behind at 140, five strokes adrift, in the company of Clyde Mondilla and Paul Miñoza, who had 67s, and Tony Lascuña, Richard Sinfuego, Rey Pagunsan, Benjie Magada and Jun Bernis, who all had 69s, and Mhark Fernando and Rene Menor, who settled for 71s. Musong R. Castillo