Blazing start lifts Salvador up by 5By Musong R. Castillo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Trece Martirez, Cavite—Elmer Salvador struggled coming home after a blazing start, salvaging a one-under-par 71 yesterday that still boosted him to a five-stroke lead halfway through the ICTSI Sherwood Hills Challenge.
After stretching his two-shot lead overnight to 10 by gunning down four birdies on his first nine from the 10th hole, the defending champion stumbled with three bogeys to wind up with a 137 total going into the last 36 holes.
Davao standouts Zannie Boy Gialon and Jay Bayron shared second at 142 after contrasting efforts as the other pursuers starting the round floundered.
The rookie Gialon bogeyed two of his last three holes and scored a 71, while the veteran Bayron, the reigning Cebu-Aboitiz leg champion, settled for pars on his last five holes and failed to gain ground on Salvador after winding up with a 74.
Salvador, the well-built winner of the Philippine Open at Malarayat in 2009, birdied the 10th, 14th, 15th and the tough 18th, in a superb start, a day after firing a 66 that featured the first double eagle on the ICTSI Tour.
But he cooled off after that hot stretch, dropping shots on the first and second holes before signing for another bogey on No. 7.
“I don’t know, I just couldn’t hit it the way I wanted to,” Salvador said in Filipino of his poor finish.
“That’s golf. Sometimes it’s effortless, but there are times when you really struggle,” added the playoff loser of the Handa Faldo Cambodian Classic last month.
Former Philippine Open champion Cassius Casas checked in with a 69 late in the afternoon and joined the flu-stricken Miguel Tabuena and Antonio Lascuña, who carded 71s, at 143, just six shots off the pace.
Tabuena is no stranger to comebacks. He notched his first pro win last month after erasing a three-shot deficit to humble Ferdie Aunzo at the Splendido in Tagaytay.
But the 17-year-old has yet to decide whether to tee off today because of the flu that he said was caused by extreme heat on Wednesday.
Jonel Ababa, the winner of three legs last year in his first full season as a pro, and Charles Hong, the newcomer who opened with a 69 in this year’s PH Open, carded 71s and were the only players at level 144.
The other big guns who rejoined the field this week made the cut comfortably, with the legendary Frankie Miñoza assembling a second straight 75 for 150 and Artemio Murakami advancing despite an 80 for 154. The cut was pegged at 155.
The leading scores:
137—E. Salvador 66-71; 142—Z. Gialon 71-71, J. Bayron 68-74; 143—C. Casas 74-69, M. Tabuena 72-71, A. Lascuna 72-71; 144—J. Ababa 73-71, C. Hong 73-71; 145—R. Bayron 74-71, J. Abdon (Am) 72-73; 147—J. Bernis 79-68, LJ Go (Am) 75-72, C. Villaroman 73-74; 148—D. Zarate 75-73, C. Santos-Ocampo 74-74; 149—J. Rates 78-79, A. Arbole 77-72, P. Minoza 75-74, E. Saban 75-74, M. Dumandan 74-75, B. Magada 71-78.