Danao City, Cebu—Australian Damien Jordan unleashed a strong finishing kick to shoot a three-under 68 then watched Jhonnel Ababa fumble with a late bogey to wrest solo control at the start of the rich million ICTSI Club Filipino de Cebu Invitational here yesterday.
Making the most of his first foray on the Philippine Golf Tour, Jordan actually had a mediocre one-birdie, one-bogey card after 12 holes at the par-71 Club Filipino layout but birdied a par-4, a par-5 and a par-3 in the last six holes to find himself a bewildered leader in the P3.5 million serving as the penultimate leg of the 10-stage circuit sponsored by ICTSI.
Ababa hit three birdies at the back to be right in the mix and kept a three-under card to stay abreast with Jordan with three holes to play at the front. But he stumbled with a bogey on No. 7, enabling the Aussie, who tied for seventh at PGT Asia Riviera leg last June, to get a solo view of the top at the mountain-top course hosting a PGT tournament for the first time.
Reigning Philippine Masters champion Jerson Balasabas rallied with two birdies at the front to join Ababa at second, along with Michael Bibat and Nilo Salahog and Korean Kim Joo Hyung as the rest of the starting 71-player field sort of opted to further test the short but tricky layout before making their assault in the next three days.
Jobim Carlos, winner of three tournaments the last 12 weeks, including the PGT Iloilo stop last weekend, bucked a double-bogey mishap on No. 5 with three birdies in the last 13 holes as he wheeled back into early contention for the top P650,000 purse with a 70 in a tie with Brunei’s Qawim Aslimon and Pete Vilairatana of the US.
Tony Lascuña, out to snap a long title spell in the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments Inc., turned in a so-so one-birdie, one-bogey round to lead the even par scorers who included some of the pre-tournament favorites—Aussie Tim Stewart, American Lexus Keoninh, Joenard Rates and Elmer Salvador along with Erwin Arcillas, Qazzri Aslimon, also of Brunei, and former PGTA leg winner Rene Menor.
Kim, who slowed down after scoring a record breakthrough win at Pueblo de Oro last month, got off to a fast start with four straight birdies from No. 12 but lost grip of the lead as he lost his touch off the mound that resulted to bogeys at Nos. 18 and 2 and lost grip of the lead.
“My goal is to get off the tee but every time I don’t hit the fairways, that’s it. I need to lay-up because of narrow fairways. You can use a driver but it’s too risky. The course is not that hard but you be wise playing it,” said Kim, who hobbled to fifth place at PGT Negros and tied for 20th at PGT Iloilo after edging Carlos by one at Pueblo to become the youngest winner on the tour at 16.
Like Kim, Salvador thought he had the course all figured out after going two-under at the front, only to find the backside so devious and unpredictable. He double-bogeyed the par-5 11th and bogeyed the next two but birdied No. 15 and eagled the par-5 15th only to drop another stroke on the next to finish with an even 33-38.
Zanieboy Gialon, Rufino Bayron and Elmer Saban turned in identical 72s while Justin Quiban, winner at PGT Bacolod, birdied two of the first six holes at the back but fumbled with two bogeys and a double-bogey to drop to joint 21th with Mhark Fernando, James Ryan Lam, Rolando Marabe Jr., Francis Morilla, Richard Sinfuego, Arnold Villacencio and Peter Stojanovski of Macedonia.
The rest, including Dutch Guido Van der Valk (74), Clyde Mondilla (76), Jay Bayron (77), Keanu Jahns (81), will be scrambling in today’s second round to get into the final 36 holes of play of the event backed by Custom Clubmakers, Meralco, Champion, Summit Mineral Water, K&G Golf Apparel, BDO, Sharp, KZG, PLDT and M.Y. Shokai Technology, Inc.