Mondilla stays 3 clear with 71
CLYDE Mondilla battled through a bum stomach and a balky putter yesterday to shoot a one-under-par 71 and hold on to a three-shot lead over Elmer Salvador going into the final 18 holes of the P2-million ICTSI Calatagan Invitational in Batangas.
It was the worst round of the week for the 23-year-old Mondilla, who came off a course record-setting 64 on Friday but grappled for form in the third round to see a six-shot overnight lead cut to half with a 202 total.
Salvador was flawless in carding a 67, moving solidly in place to snap a year-long victory spell, with Jonel Ababa, the pint-sized talent from Davao who calls this course home, another shot adrift at 206 after a 68.
For all intents and purposes, the battle for the crown has boiled down to the three, with Antonio Lascuña six shots off after a 69 and Jay Bayron another two back, also after a 69.
“I will try my best,” Mondilla said of what he plans to do in the final round.
The Bukidnon shotmaker is shooting to win back-to-back titles for the first time in his career after ruling last week’s Manila Masters at Eastridge in Binangonan, Rizal.
Syotaro Onuki of Japan was the best-placed foreigner at 211 after firing a 69, his second straight sub-par round. In all, only 10 players were under par going into today’s final round of the tournament that dangles a champion’s purse of P360,000.
Mondilla opened up with a birdie but felt the ill effects of a bum stomach from there, struggling to save shots before giving two back on the par-4 fifth hole.
Mondilla has dropped a total of three strokes on that hole in the last two days, with his only bogey in that astounding second-round effort coming on that hole. He also has just one more bogey in 54 holes—on the par-3 16th yesterday.
Salvador, the 2009 Philippine Open champion at Malarayat in Lipa City, is one of only four players that have cracked par in all three rounds. He turned in a 33-34 card yesterday to wheel into contention for the first time this season.
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