Van Der Valk seizes 3-stroke lead
STA. ROSA, LAGUNA—Dutchman Guido Van der Valk returned a one-under-par 71 on Wednesday to seize a three-shot lead over young Ira Alido at the start of the rich The Country Club Invitational here.
Van der Valk birdied the par-5s coming out, using superb iron play against blustery gusts for a 34-37 effort that he said was surprising as the field in the P5-million event—the richest local tournament next to the Philippine Open—struggled big time over the long layout.
“You never expect to shoot one-under on this course,” Van der Valk said even as Antonio Lascuña signed for a wet double bogey 6 on the 18th to settle for a 75—and a tie with Jay Bayron, Ferdie Aunzo, Zannie Boy Gialon and Rupert Zaragosa.
Frankie Miñoza, the only other former champion in the field after Lascuña, struggled to a 77 like fellow Bukidnon native and reigning Philippine Open champion Clyde Mondilla.
Mondilla, one of the longest hitters on the local tour who ruled the Pradera Verde leg by winning in a playoff, was working on a one-under card through his first seven holes only to flounder. He closed out with two straight bogeys in finishing his front nine.
Jonel Ababa was one of those favorites who couldn’t handle the conditions on opening day, shooting a 79 after dropping three strokes over his last three holes.