Carl Santos-Ocampo and Antonio Lascuña fired identical 7-under-par 65s yesterday and zoomed to the top two places in the P1-million Tagaytay Midlands Challenge at the tree-lined, ravine-laden layout in scenic Tagaytay.
Attacking the pins in bogey-free rounds, Santos-Ocampo shot seven birdies while Lascuña gunned down two eagles and three birdies for 135 and 136 totals over 36 holes, respectively.
Randy Garalde, a long-time pro still searching for a breakthrough win, fired a 68 for 137 while Rey Pagunsan shot a 67 to catch Jay Bayron and first-round leader Elmer Salvador at 138, just three shots off the pace heading into today’s final 18 holes.
Teen wonder Miguel Tabuena opened with a bogey 5 but still shot a 68 to tie obscure Villamor teaching pro Nilo Salahog, who fired a 70, at 139 and keep a mathematical chance of pulling through in the last round.
Elmer Saban, the former Apo Golf caddy in Davao who teed off just one shot behind Salvador, managed a level 72 and dropped five shots off the lead, tied with Michael Bibat, who rallied with a 67 after a first round 73.
Angelo Que had a lot of trouble in the back nine, signing for a triple bogey 7 on the 13th for a 74 that all but took him out of the title hunt like Charles Hong and Gerald Rosales, who fired 75s after carding 70s on Wednesday.
“My ball striking was solid throughout the round, allowing me good looks at birdies,” said Santos-Ocampo, who is chasing his second win.
Lascuña has had close calls in the past few months with an only win in the Calatagan leg in May to show. He blew into solid contention for another crack at a title after pitching in from about 40 yards with a sand wedge on No. 6 for the first of his two eagle 3s.
On the 16th, Lascuna drilled a beautiful 5-iron from 220 yards to within “gimme” range, before picking up his last birdie on the next hole that sealed a 33-32 card.
“Wins don’t come when you force it,” Santos-Ocampo said. “(In the final round) I’ll just enjoy the round with one of my favorite players (Lascuña).”
The event is being backed by Nike Golf, Srixon, Custom Clubmakers, Pacsports, Cleveland Golf, Callaway, Ping, Mizuno, Empire Golf and Sports Shop, FootJoy, Titleist, Sharp and BMW.