Jay Bayron, Frankie Miñoza forge ahead as Gialon, Bibat stumble
TARLAC—Jay Bayron, challenged by a legend all day, outdueled Frankie Miñoza in a virtual shootout, coming away with a day-best 67 to rally from joint 10th and into a share of the lead with the Del Monte ace halfway through the ICTSI Luisita Championship here on Wednesday.
As Zanieboy Gialon and Michael Bibat lost their touch and rhythm after superb rounds that netted them the 1-2 spots after 18 holes Tuesday, Bayron vaulted into contention with a solid backside 32 start while battling Miñoza shot-for-shot and putt-for-putt. The seasoned Davaoeno campaigner then hung tough with a two-birdie, one-bogey effort at the front to tie the former Asian Tour No. 1 at 138.
Miñoza likewise went bogey-free at the back with a 34 in one of the early flights and matched Bayron’s frontside card to log a second straight 69 in an impressive 36-hole performance that mirrored the 63-year-old campaigner’s stint in Bacolod last March.
After a 66, Bibat fumbled with a 73 while Gialon limped with a 74 after a solid 65 but the duo stayed just behind at 139 for joint third while defending champion Miguel Tabuena and Korean Kim Min Seong matched 140s after a 68 and 72, respectively, to make it a crowded leaderboard with 36 holes left in the P2 million championship put up by ICTSI.
Mars Pucay and Fidel Concepcion shot identical 69s to tie Ira Alido, who carded a 70, at 141, while title-hungry Angelo Que likewise produced a 69 to share 10th place at 142 with Elmer Salvador and Albin Engino, who fired 70 and 71, respectively.
Tony Lascuña, who finished second in Bacolod and Iloilo and dominated the Caliraya Springs leg, also faltered with a 73 to slip to joint 22nd with Sean Ramos, who also posted a one-over card, at 144, six shots off the joint leader, while Clyde Mondilla rallied with a 69 to advance with a 145 in a tie with Dino Villanueva and Korean Kang Chon Koo, who groped for 74 and 75, respectively.
But while Bayron puts his focus on short game and putting heading to the last two rounds, Miñoza is more concerned of his stamina since, as leaders, they would be teeing off last and expecting to wrap up their rounds in extreme heat.
“I hope I can finish,” said Miñoza in jest. “I’m getting old and it will depend on my condition, on how will I play the last two rounds.”
Miñoza also shot 68-69 to be among the frontrunners in Bacolod but wavered with a 73 in the pivotal round and ended up solo fourth with a closing 71 in the Philippine Golf Tour’s kickoff leg ruled by Alido.
Miñoza, who birdied Nos. 10, 12, 3 and 6 against a bogey on No. 4, actually missed grabbing the solo lead with flubbed birdie chances in the last three holes.
Bayron, who started the round six strokes off Gialon, banked on a pair of back-to-back birdie feats from Nos. 12 and 16 inside 10 feet to wheel back into contention then drilled in two more that sandwiched his lone bogey on No. 3 to join Miñoza at the helm.
Meanwhile, Dan Cruz and Gerald Rosales matched 73s while Elee Bisera struggled with a 75 as they took the last three spots in the Top 40 and ties field with 149s but The Country Club Invitational back-to-back champion Guido van der Valk missed the cut by three with a 148 total after a 78.