Aboitiz Invitational: Angelo Que, Jhonnel Ababa share top spot
SILANG, Cavite—Angelo Que started birdie-eagle in one of the late afternoon flights and shot a 7-under 65 like early-starting Jhonnel Ababa even as Tony Lascuña likewise sizzled with a flawless 66 as the local aces took charge in the first round of the $100,000 Aboitiz Invitational Wednesday at Riviera’s Couples course here.
On a day defending champion Elmer Salvador fumbled with a 73 under preferred lies rules, Que flashed awesome putting touch all day, opening with a 20-foot birdie putt on No. 1 and burying his eagle bid from 30 feet after reaching the par-5 second hole with a 236-yard second shot.
“My putting was wonderful. I saw swing coach Bong Lopez before I went to Japan and we worked on my putting stroke again and it has been beneficial,” said Que, who tapped in for another birdie on No. 5 then rammed in back-to-back birdies from No. 7 inside six feet to make the turn at 30.
The former Philippine Open champion, however, cooled down at the back with just one birdie on No. 11 that proved enough to keep him in step with Ababa, enjoying top form following a breakthrough win on the Asean PGA Tour in Malaysia two weeks ago. Ababa assembled a 32-33 card in this Asian Development Tour event sponsored by Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Inc. that was played at Cebu Country Club the last three years.
Lascuña, the reigning back-to-back ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour Order of Merit champion, nailed six birdies but rued missing four chances inside eight feet that cost him the lead.
“If not for those lip-outs, I would’ve easily made a 10-under. The ball just wouldn’t drop in,” said Lascuña, who nevertheless was on target for his breakthrough win on the ADT and fourth in this year’s local circuit sponsored by ICTSI and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments Inc.
Benjie Magada rallied with five straight birdies from No. 14 for a 67 (36-31) like Thais Poosit Supupramai and Pijit Petchkasem and American Casey O’Toole.
Miguel Tabuena, the best-placed Filipino in the current ADT Order of Merit ranking at No. 15, shot a 68 along with American Brett Munson and Miguel Ochoa while unheralded Richard Abaring carded a 69 for joint 11th with Swede Malcolm Kokocinski and veteran Asian Tour campaigner Mars Pucay.
Salvador, trying to become the first player to defend an ADT leg title three times, blew a two-under card at the back where he started as he stumbled with a triple bogey on the par-4 No. 1 after an errant approach shot from around 100 yards.
“I think I’m still OK. There are still three rounds left,” said Salvador, who nipped Que by one to complete his back-to-back title romp in this event last year.
Other fancied bets likewise wavered in the opener of the 72-hole championship backed by International Container Terminal Services Inc., including ADT three-leg winner Jay Bayron, who made a 74, Scot James Byrne, winner of last week’s ADT leg in Jakarta, who hobbled with a 75 like Frankie Miñoza, the Philippine Open winner here in 1998.