CANLUBANG, Laguna—Jonel Ababa gunned down five birdies in a second-round 3-under-par 69 yesterday that gave him a one-stroke lead heading into the final round of the ICTSI Canlubang Invitational at the North course.
Ababa, a three-time Tour winner, closed out with one of his two bogeys on the 18th, but his 139 aggregate still kept him in front of Zannie Boy Gialon and first-round co-leader Elmer Saban, who fired a 68 and 71, respectively.
Former Philippine Open winner Cassius Casas vaulted into contention, just two strokes behind, after a 67 even as Jessie Balasabas and Jay Bayron joined a four-man bunch at 142 after a 69 and a 70, respectively.
Senior Japan Tour campaigner Robert Pactolerin assembled a 71 and was at 143 like Ferdie Aunzo, even as Randy Garalde, who shared the first-round lead with Saban after a 69 on Wednesday, ballooned to a 78 that virtually put him out of contention at 147.
Frankie Miñoza, the recently crowned Japan Senior Open champion, shot a 73 to be at 147.
Gerald Rosales (75) and Carl Santos-Ocampo (76) missed the 151 cut by a stroke.
Also failing to get under the wire was defending champion Artemio Murakami (81 for 160).
Ababa, whose three titles all came in his rookie year last season where he was named the Player of the Year by his peers, went three-under after his first 10 holes. He also birdied the 14th and 17th after his first bogey on the 13th.
Then he missed the 18th green and failed to convert a tough putt.
Gialon, meanwhile, closed out birdie-birdie-par and put himself in position for his second win as a pro more than four months after he pocketed his first win via a playoff victory over Antonio Lascuña in a rain-shortened leg in Bacolod.
Casas missed claiming a tie for second with Gialon and Saban after chalking up his only bogey on the 18th.