Rates hangs tough, boosts lead to 2 | Inquirer Sports

Rates hangs tough, boosts lead to 2

By: - Reporter / @MusongINQ
/ 03:42 AM March 29, 2014

MANILA, Philippines — Joenard Rates survived his first day in the pressure cooker Friday, shooting a bogey-free five-under-par 63 to take a two-shot lead over Antonio Lascuña heading into the final round of the ICTSI Camp John Hay Championship in Baguio.

Seeking to win for the first time and holding the lead after two rounds, Rates finished birdie-birdie-par for a 33-30 card and a 188 aggregate at the up-and-down layout to stay ahead of  Lascuña, who made a bold move with a 61, and defending champion Jay Bayron, who was three shots off after a 65.

Saturday, the pressure will be greatest for Rates.

“I just hope that I finally break through,” Rates, a five-year pro whose best finish was third here in 2012, said in Filipino. “It’s been such a long time for me.”

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Not only will the pressure of winning for the first time be a factor, Rates will also have to contend with the best parbusters in the circuit who will be giving chase, starting with Lascuña.

The 44-year-old Lascuña gunned down eight birdies—including five straight that bridged his two nines—to emerge into serious contention.

And the veteran who knows what it takes to win, can truly apply pressure on the two-day leader in today’s final 18 holes.

“I have gotten the rhythm of my putting back.

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Yes, I think I have a strong chance,” Lascuña said in Filipino.

Bayron, meanwhile, is a man no stranger to comebacks.

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Last Sunday, the unassuming Davao native came back from nine strokes down in the final day to pip younger brother Rufino and win the Splendido leg.

Jay actually overhauled a five-stroke deficit here last year before beating Miguel Tabuena in the second hole of sudden-death playoff to win.

Carl Santos-Ocampo fired a 63 and was just six down and Frankie Miñoza assembled a level 68 to be another shot back and still with a legitimate chance to win considering how short the course is playing.

Tabuena fired a 68 to trail by nine like four more big guns in Jonel Ababa, Angelo Que, Elmer Salvador and Canadian Rick Gibson, who all carded 67s.

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The four-day championship is being backed by Nike Golf, Custom Clubmakers, Titleist, Cleveland, Pacsports, Srixon, Callaway, Sharp and FootJoy and media partners Balls TV and ABS-CBN.

TAGS: Antonio Lascuna, Baguio, Camp John Hay, Golf, ICTSI, Joenard Rates

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