Miñoza storms ahead by 4 strokes with a 64By Musong R. Castillo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
CANLUBANG, Laguna—With his many successes both here and abroad, it’s hard to imagine that Frankie Miñoza is still hoping to achieve a golf dream.
Defying the winds to shoot a six-under-par 64 in truly trying conditions here yesterday, Miñoza took a formidable four-stroke lead going into the final round of the only big local tournament he has never won—The Country Club Invitational.
Miñoza was near-perfect on a day when howling winds bowled over the talented field, gunning down seven birds in an eye-popping display of shotmaking for a 205 aggregate and a four-shot lead over Rufino Bayron after 54 holes.
“What motivates me is that I haven’t won here yet,” said the 53-year-old Minoza, who won the Japan Senior Open title less than two months ago. “It would be a dream come true if I win this event.”
Bayron fired a 69 and became the only other player under par at 209, while Clyde Mondilla submitted a 68 to lead three others at 212 that included the defending champion Juvic Pagunsan, who fired a 71.
Miñoza birdied three of his first five holes before dropping his only shot on the sixth. He gunned down three straight birds from No. 12 and put the finishing touch to the low round of the tournament so far by landing his approach on the difficult 18th to within four feet.
Joint second-round leaders Angelo Que and Miguel Tabuena both struggled big, finishing with 76s that put them nine strokes off the pace.
“You’re chasing a living legend,” Que said in praise of Miñoza, the most revered among all local pros who was tied for the first-round lead with Que and Tabuena. “Of course, I will try, but that’s Frankie Miñoza out there, he’s no stranger to winning.”
Que, who like Pagunsan is seeking to win this event a record fourth time, opened bogey-par-par before disaster struck on No. 4 where he took a quadruple bogey 8 after driving out-of-bounds to the left and then three-putting.
Tabuena, the 18-year-old using a new set of blade-type irons for just the second tournament, also bogeyed that hole and had five more bogeys in his next 12 holes in a birdie-less round.
Antonio Lascuña, the hottest player on tour coming into the tournament, matched par but stood 11 down going into the final round with a 216 aggregate like amateur Dottie Ardina, who fired an identical 70.
Inaugural champion Cassius Casas was also at 212 after a 72, with Jay Bayron also in this group after a 71 in the event being held for the 11th straight year in honor of ICTSI founder Don Pocholo Razon.
Carl Santos-Ocampo, who broke through as a pro last year, scored a 70 and was the only one at 213, eight shots adrift.
The leading scores:
205 – F. Minoza 68-73-64; 209 – R. Bayron 69-71-69; 212 – C. Mondilla 71-73-68, J. Bayron 69-72-71, J. Pagunsan 69-72-71, C. Casas 72-68-72; 213 – C. Santos-Ocampo 70-73-70; 214 – A. Que 68-70-76, M. Tabuena 68-70-76; 216 – A. Lascuna 72-74-70, D. Ardina (Am) 74-72-70; 217 – F. Aunzo 72-73-72, E. Salvador 71-73-73; 218 – J. Ababa 79-72-67, R. Garalde 74-72-72; 219 – M. Pucay 74-74-71, M. Bibat 73-73-73, M. Fernando 74-71-74, A. Fernando 72-73-74.