WITH Frankie Miñoza bowing out in the second round, Juvic Pagunsan withdrawing and Angelo Que struggling, it’s now up to Elmer Salvador to assume the role of Filipino hero the $300,000 Solaire Open desperately needs.
The taciturn ex-caddy from Davao overcame a string of bad luck to churn out a 1-under-par 71 yesterday that left him just two strokes off leader Lin Wen-tang of Taipei heading into the final round of the Asian Tour’s seventh leg at Wack Wack East.
Salvador gunned down six birdies, three of them in succession from No. 2, before stumbling with a triple bogey 8 on No. 5 for a 37 coming out. He rallied with a back nine 34 that gave him a 54-hole 214 aggregate.
The 39-year-old Lin, whose last of six Asian Tour victories came in 2008, dropped two shots in his last three holes and settled for a 70 for 212, a stroke ahead of Thammanoon Sriroj of Thailand, who also returned a 71.
Pawin Ingkhapradit, also of Thailand, was tied with Salvador after a similar 71 even as Filipino teener Miguel Tabuena put himself in position to erase the memory of a ghastly collapse in the Philippine Open last year by carding a second straight 72 to stay five shots off the pace.
“I had some shots that either got bad bounces or were taken by the wind,” Salvador, whose triple on the fifth had him playing out of the trees twice and hitting out of a buried lie in the fairway bunker, said in Filipino.
“I hope my luck improves tomorrow (today),” added Salvador, the Philippine Open winner at Malarayat in 2009 who also three-putted the fifth.
Sam Cyr of the United States fired a day-best 69 and vaulted into solid contention at 215, tied with Kim Gi-whan of Korea, who matched par, as only six players ended up with sub-par scores after three trying days at the tree-lined layout.
First-round leader Dodge Kemmer of the United States rebounded from a second round 79 with a 71 and was tied at 216 together with Unho Park of Australia and Gunn Chareonkul of Thailand, who both submitted 72s.
Hsu Mong-nan, another Taiwanese, fired a 71 to be in Tabuena’s group together with Panuwat Muenlek of Thailand and Canadian Richard Lee, who scored a 73 and 74, respectively.
“I had a good round today except for the last three holes where I missed the greens,” the 37-year-old Lin said after peeling away from a four-way tie for the lead at the start of the round. “I don’t know if I can still win tomorrow because it’s been a long time since I won. I just want to enjoy the tournament.”