Elmer Salvador churned out a five-under-par 67 yesterday and zoomed to the top of the leaderboard in the ICTSI Del Monte Championship by one stroke over Antonio Lascuña heading into today’s final 18 holes of the P1-million event in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon.
The soft-spoken Salvador, stripped of a win here in 2010 because of a final-hole infraction, started out hot with three straight birdies from No. 4, gunned down an eagle on the par-5 14th from 12 feet, then closed out with a birdie for a two-round total of 135.
“I putted well and I hope to sustain it in the final round,” Salvador, whose only bogey came on the 10th, said in Filipino.
Lascuña also had a 67 with the reigning Order of Merit champion picking up four straight shots from No. 14. He missed making it five consecutive that would have tied him for the lead when he muffed a short birdie putt on the 18th.
“I had a chance on No. 18 for another birdie but I blew it again,” rued Lascuña, who is seeking a second title this year after winning the Calatagan stop in Batangas two months ago.
Johvanie Abaño, an unheralded club pro who saw action for Del Monte twice in the PAL Interclub, shot a 68 and will be third man in today’s final flight.
Abaño nailed six birdies against two bogeys and stood two shots off Salvador even as teen prodigy Miguel Tabuena rebounded from a horrendous opening-day 73 with a day-best 66 to climb to fourth, four shots behind.
Jay Bayron, the runner-up to American Berry Henson in the 2011 Philippine Open at Wack Wack, also carded a 66 to join the legendary Frankie Miñoza, who carded a second straight 70, and Ryan Lam, who fired a 69, at 140.
The sixth leg of the ICTSI circuit is being backed by Nike Golf, Empire Golf and Sports Shop, Mizuno, Titleist, Srixon, Foot Joy, Callaway, Pacsports, Custom Clubmakers, Cleveland Golf and Sharp.
Richard Sinfuego, the first-round leader, couldn’t keep in step with the hot scoring of the favorites, shooting a 74 that pulled him to 141 in the company of Michael Bibat, the recent Palos Verdes leg winner in Cagayan de Oro who fired a 73.
Bibat started the day just one stroke off Sinfuego but dropped two shots on his first three holes and closed out with a bogey on the par-5 18th. Musong R. Castillo