Four share ICTSI lead
TRECE Martirez, Cavite—Gene Bondoc closed out with a double bogey and settled for a 4-under-par 68 that dropped him to a four-way tie for the first round lead in the ICTSI Sherwood Hills Classic here.
Former Philippine Open champion Elmer Salvador and fellow veterans Mars Pucay and Antonio Lascuña wound up sharing the lead with Bondoc, who missed the green then three-putted the ninth, which was his finishing hole.
The quartet held a two-shot lead over five men, including defending champion Marvin Dumandan, with Randy Garalde shooting a 71 for the 10th and final sub-par card over the tough Sherwood Hills layout.
Veterans Danny Zarate and Cassius Casas also shot 70s along with obscure Arnold Villacencio and Elmer Saban in the event organized by the Pilipinas Golf Tournaments Inc.
Bondoc’s finish belied his explosive run on the final nine where he eagled the par-5 fifth then birdied three of his next four holes to go six under.
Pucay and Lascuña also bogeyed the ninth, with Lascuña failing to rescue par from six feet and Pucay missing the green for the only dropped shot in a round that had five birdies, three of them coming in a four-hole stretch from No. 12.
The stocky Salvador was flawless all day and put himself in position to winning for the first time this year.
The 42-year-old Davao native came to this tournament after missing the cut in Macau. A week earlier, he finished in a tie for second to Himmat Rai in the Asian Tour’s Singapore Classic.
“I’m hitting the ball well,” Salvador said in Filipino. “The key here (for the final two rounds) is to be able to stay in the fairway to get a good shot at the greens. Once you’re in the rough, you’re in trouble.”
Benjie Magada, Joenard Rates and former world junior champion Carito Villaroman returned level 70s with Jay Bayron, the Cebu Aboitiz Invitational champion, struggling to post a 74.
“My game is in pretty good shape,” Lascuña said, also in Filipino. “I came into the tournament with a slight swing change because I haven’t been driving the ball well. But I’m fine so far.”
Robert Pactolerin, the former Philippine Open champion who rejuvenated his career with a win here in 2008, also opened up with a 74 to remain in the mix with Artemio Murakami hobbling to a 75 like Mark Fernando.
The event is being backed by MJ Carr Golf Management Inc., Srixon, Callaway, Unilab, BDO, Titleist, Sharp, Custom Clubmakers, PinoyGolfer.com, Inquirer Golf, Omnisource International, A Round of Golf, Studio 23, Balls, and Dynamic Sports.
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