Mondilla takes charge after 69
STA. ROSA, Laguna—Opening up with a bogey but doing nothing wrong the rest of the way, Clyde Mondilla stood out in another pushing test of golf on Friday and moved on the cusp of winning the biggest title of a very promising career.
The long-hitting Bukidnon native drained all four of his birdies in his last 17 holes to highlight a three-under-par 69 for a four-shot lead over Thailand’s Tawit Polthai heading into the final round of the $500,000 Solaire Philippine Open at The Country Club here.
Counting an opening 71 and a second round 75, Mondilla, who owns one of the most remarkable work ethics in the local tour, will take a 215 tally into Saturday’s last 18 holes.
The exclusive layout refused to budge and claimed the chances of a lot of pretenders, yielding just four sub-par rounds with Polthai finally getting knocked off the lead after a second straight 76 littered with six bogeys.
Nirun Sae-Ueng and Namchok Tantipokhakul, both of Thailand, fired a 74 and 75, respectively, to be five shots off the pace even as Angelo Que, the 2008 champion at Wack Wack, finally cracked par, shooting a 71 to be seven shots adrift.
“I hit my irons pretty solid, my short game was good and I putted well,” said Mondilla in Filipino.
Nirun praised the new leader’s excellent game as Mondilla stayed on track as far as keeping Asia’s oldest national championship in the hands of a Filipino is concerned.
“Honestly, I don’t know him (Mondilla) personally. This is the first time that I played against him, but he’s a fine, excellent player,” said Nirun.
“He hit precise shots and putted well,” said Nirum of the soft-spoken Mondilla, the 2017 PGT Order of Merit champion who was joint 56th here last year.
Tantipokhakul highlighted his round with three straight birdies from No. 13 but missed joining Polthai in second with a bogey on the final hole.
Another Thai, Chonlatit Chuenboonngam, also stayed within striking distance of Mondilla with a one-under card after eight holes but bogeyed two of his last 10 holes and ended up with a 73 for a 221.
“At least I was able to recover in the last few holes. It’s a good sign and hopefully, I can sustain that run tomorrow (today),” said the 40-year-old Que, who actually had reigned here as TCC Invitational champion three times.
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