Nakajima hangs on; Casas trails by two
TORU Nakajima held his ground on a day of survival at the East course yesterday, shooting a 2-over-par 74 to keep the lead by two shots over a rallying Cassius Casas going into the final round today of the P2.5 million ICTSI Wack Wack Championship.
The Japanese went birdie-less for the first time this week but stayed on top with a 214 total after 54 holes as no one cracked par over the heavily-wooded layout and the par-matching 72 of Casas proving the best score in the third round.
Casas, who won his Philippine Open in 2002 over the same layout, actually bogeyed the 18th after missing the green for a 216 aggregate.
Jay Bayron and rookie Micah Shin remained in contention at 217 after carding a 73 and 74, respectively.
Michael Bibat also shot a 74 and stayed mathematically in the hunt at 218 with Mars Pucay and Jonel Ababa leading a five-man group that stood another stroke back after submitting level par 72s.
Elmer Saban, who had his breakthrough win as a pro this year, also matched par, while Mark Fernando and Benjie Magada churned out contrasting versions of a 74 to join the logjam at 219.
Elmer Salvador, another former Open champion who started the day just three shots behind Nakajima, ballooned to a 77 and faded out of contention at 220.
The 43-year-old Salvador, whose Open triumph at Mount Malarayat in 2009 featured an all-Filipino field save for runner-up Guido Van Der Valk of the Netherlands, started with a bogey and finished his front nine at 40.
Nakajima, runner-up to Van Der Valk in the Q School early this year, had two bogeys, the last coming on the finishing hole, which Bayron, Shin and Bibat all birdied to stay in the fight.
Charles Hong, the prohibitive favorite coming into the event owing to his joint ninth place finish in the Resorts World Manila Masters at Southwoods, improved slightly to a 74 but remained 11 shots back and out of it all.
Wack Wack East played its toughest this week as it yielded just four level par cards with some struggling to break 80.
Miguel Tabuena played his best round, a 75, and jumped into a tie for 31st place along with four others, including former junior star Cookie La’O, who fired an 80.