Wild finish looms as Aussie leads

Silang, Cavite—Rookie PGT Asia campaigner Damien Jordan sustained his eagle spree in another hot, windy day, hitting a third one to save a 71 and grab a one-stroke lead over come-backing Michael Bibat and a steady John Michael O’Toole of the US in the third round of the ICTSI Riviera Classic yesterday.

Jordan came through with a sensational eagle feat off the fairway bunker on the par-4 15th, his third in two days that somehow cushioned the impact of the Aussie’s three-putt miscue on the par-3 No. 17. It also sent the battle for top $17,500 purse wide open the way it was in the kickoff leg of the second Philippine Golf Tour Asia at Luisita last month.

That late-hole bogey and a 71 netted Jordan a 54-hole aggregate of four-under 209, just a stroke up on Bibat, who bounced back from a second 75 with a 69, and O’Toole who turned in his third straight 70 for identical 210s at the Langer course.

“It was so hot I’m happy to end the day. I’m also glad to be up there in the leaderboard,” said Jordan, who tied for fifth in the PGTA Q-School but skipped the ICTSI Luisita Championship.

After a mediocre 71 Wednesday, the 37-year-old from Tweed Meads wheeled back into contention with a 67 in the second round, highlighted by two eagles, including a pitch-in feat on No. 6. But he went up-and-down yesterday, mixing three birdies against four bogeys until he knocked down that eagle from 80 yards on No. 15.

“I believe this was the toughest day. The wind picked up more but luckily, I hit some great shots that somehow compensated for my errors,” said Jordan.

Bibat also rebounded from an error-filled second round with a five-birdie effort that negated a bogey and a double-bogey mishap on the par-3 eighth.

“I didn’t lose hope after that second round 75. But I need to stay focused and make the most of my birdie chances tomorrow (today),” said Bibat, seeking a follow-up to his breakthrough win at Palos Verdes in 2013.

Like Bibat, O’Toole is also looking forward to a big weekend, shrugging off a last-hole bogey that cost him a share of the lead in the 72-hole championship sponsored by ICTSI and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.

“Just one back,” he said. “A 2- or 3-shot swing can change the game at any time here. But I have to shit solid shots, especially on tough holes. If I can do that, then I’d be fine.”

Tony Lascuña blew a 33 start with a 38, his 71 keeping him in the title hunt at 211 while Jobim Carlos and Japanese Yuta Sudo pooled 212s with a 71 and 72, respectively, guaranteeing another wild finish in the $100,000 event backed by Custom Clubmakers, Meralco, Champion, Summit Mineral Water, K&G Golf Apparel, BDO, Sharp, KZG, PLDT and M.Y. Shokai Technology, Inc.

David Gleeson, also from Down Under, wore down Erwin Arcillas on the third playoff hole to clinch the Luisita crown and snap a seven-year title drought.

With 213 outputs, Thai Natchanon Varapornkittirat and Korean Lee Song, who both shot 70s, remain in the race just four strokes adrift with five more players – Brett Munson of the US (70), Mars Pucay (70), Jhonnel Ababa (71), Thai Pasavee Lertvilai (71) and Poosit Supupramai, also of Thailand (73) – laying another shot back at 214.

“No lead is safe here. Even if you’re down 3 or 5, it doesn’t matter,” said Lascuña, who pulled abreast with Jordan with his opening 33 but fell behind again with two bogeys at the back.

Topics: Rookie PGT Asia , Damien Jordan , Michael Bibat , John Michael O’Toole , ICTSI Luisita Championship

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