Angelo Que and Tony Lascuña, still waxing hot after a top-10 finish in the Asian Tour last week, fired identical 2-under-par 70s yesterday to share the lead at the start of the P2.5 million ICTSI Wack Wack Championship at the fabled East course in Mandaluyong.
Que and Lascuña played steady in difficult conditions to take a one-stroke lead over unheralded James Ryan Lam, Charles Hong and Orlan Sumcad in this 72-hole championship capping the local circuit’s 2012 season.
Defending champion Frankie Miñoza matched par 72 like Carl Santos-Ocampo and Elmer Salvador while Jay Bayron and Mark Fernando carded 73s like three others in what shaped up as a tight chase for the top prize of P420,000.
But Juvic Pagunsan, a favorite as the reigning Asian Tour Order of Merit champion, was in danger of missing the halfway cut after struggling with a 79 that left him in 48th spot with 12 others.
Que, who tied with Lascuña and three others for fifth place in the $2 million Iskandar Johor Open in Malaysia last Sunday, gunned down four birdies against two bogeys on a course where he won the Philippine Open four years ago.
On the heels of a 33 on the front nine, Lascuña looked poised to grab the solo lead until he bogeyed the final hole from the bunker.
“I’m playing with a lot of confidence,” said Lascuña in Filipino, adding that changes on his swing early this year had done wonders to his form and kept him free from back pains that have been bothering him.
“The strong winds made it tough, but I have a lot of trust on my swing and short game at the moment,” added the 41-year-old, who ended at a personal-best of No. 12 in the Asian Tour Order of Merit this year.
Lascuña actually needs to finish just in the top five here to clinch the local tour’s Order of Merit crown.
The tournament is organized by Pilipinas Golf Tour and backed by Empire Golf, Titleist, Footjoy, Callaway, TaylorMade, Mizuno, Srixon, Nike Golf, Custom Clubmakers and Sharp with Balls, Studio 23, Pinoygolfer.com and Inquirer Golf as media partners.
The top first round scores:
70—A. Que (34-36), T. Lascuña (33-37); 71—J. Lam (37-34), C. Hong (36-35), Sumcad (33-38); 72—F. Miñoza (37-35), C. Santos-Ocampo (36-36), E. Salvador (35-37); 73—J. Bayron (38-35), G. Solomon (37-36), M. Fernando (37-36), A. Villavicencio (36-37), T. Macatangay (34-39); 74—J. Rates (39-35), D. Becierra (36-38), R. Pagunsan (36-38), Z. Gialon (35-39), J. Salvador (34-40); 75—P. Echavez (38-37), C. Mondilla (36-39), R. Depilo (37-38), D. Delos Santos (37-38), P. Miñoza (37-38)