Balasabas slows down in final hole, settles for tie with 3 others
Jessie Balasabas lost steam in the closing hole on a scorching-hot Wednesday afternoon and dropped into a four-way tie for the lead after settling for a five-under-par 67 at the start of the Philippine Masters at tree-lined Villamor in Pasay.
The 36-year-old, a product of the defunct National Caddies Open program, bungled an easy approach shot from 140 yards on the par-5 18th and signed for his second bogey in a 34-33 card that brought him down to a tie with Jobim Carlos, Joenard Rates and Orlan Sumcad.
Rates had a flawless, eagle-aided round and, like Carlos, reprised his opening round effort last year where he immediately wheeled into contention only to falter in the final three days.
Sumcad had an eagle 3 on No. 4 and went out in 31 only to come home with a 36 as the quartet takes a one-shot lead over Albin Engino and two over the veteran Jay Bayron into the second round of the P3 million event on Thursday.
“It was a very poor approach,” Balasabas told the Inquirer, referring to a botched wedge that found the left greenside bunker which ultimately cost him the solo lead.
Japan’s Eiichiro Hiyama returned a 71 to be the best-placed foreigner with defending champion Clyde Mondilla shooting a 74 to fall seven behind.
“My game is still not where I want it to be,” Mondilla, who eagled the 18th, said in Filipino.