CEBU–American Brian Locke didn’t have any problem conquering the damp Cebu Country Club layout here yesterday, shooting a 6-under-par 66 to set the clubhouse pace in the first round of the $65,000 Aboitiz Invitational.
Elmer Salvador also didn’t have much problem on the course, with an interview with a foreign reporter over the phone after earlier carving out a 67 actually giving him a more difficult time.
Locke, a 25-year-old, four-year pro, rode a hot five-hole stretch bridging the two nines to hammer out a 33-33 card highlighted by seven birdies and knock the taciturn, defending champion Salvador out of the lead in one of the late afternoon flights.
“He had too many questions,” Salvador, the defending champion here, said in Filipino of the foreign reporter.
“My only answers were ‘yes’ and ‘too many water,’” added Salvador who also had six birdies and a bogey after three-putting the 18th hole. “There’s still a long way to go and anything can happen.”
Locke was in one of the final groups that finished the round in gathering dusk and six groups were left stranded because of darkness as play was slowed down by a two-hour suspension because of the threat of lightning early in the afternoon.
Two more Filipinos—rookie Reymon Jaraulla and the veteran Mars Pucay—were in the Top Five with identical 68s. Brothers Jay and Rufino Bayron and amateur LJ Go shot 69s to be in the Top 10.
Australia’s Darren Tan also assembled a 68 and said that he liked his chances over the tight course that had befuddled so many in the past.
Tan, a 29-year-old from Perth, gunned down five birdies against a wet bogey and is looking good in just his second tournament on Philippine soil. He missed the cut in the Philippine Open by a shot at Wack Wack last year.
“The swing feels very good. I’m hitting the ball well, giving myself a lot of chances,” said the three-year pro. “I love the layout. It’s soft, tight and strategic.”
Jaraulla, a 20-year-old product of the Frankie Miñoza Foundation in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon, had six birdies but was hampered by two three-putt bogeys in the back nine.
Jay Bayron, the champion in the first two editions of this event, shot seven birdies that went with four bogeys. He put himself in the mix by gunning down two of those birds to close out.
Angelo Que, the former PH Open champion and multiple leg winner in the Asian Tour, carded a 70.
Teen prodigy Miguel Tabuena was among a slew of players that checked in with 72s, including Antonio Lascuña, the second placer to Salvador here by six strokes last year.