Dasmariñas, Cavite—Damien Jordan romped with the best backside card among the frontrunners in wet condition but missed capping it on the closing par-5 hole as he settled for a 70 and a two-stroke lead over Angelo Que and Thai Namchok Tantipokhakul in wicked day in the Aboitiz Invitational here yesterday.
While the rest of the contenders fumbled and stumbled in rain, sun and rain – and the slow greens—heading home, Jordan came away with superb iron shots and birdied three of the first six holes at the back to build a four-shot cushion over Que, Tantipokhakul and Michael Bibat heading to the 18th of Orchard’s Palmer course.
But the Aussie ace uncharacteristically missed the green and three-putted for bogey while Que and the Thai closed out with birdies to shoot identical 71s and close the gap at two, 205-207, going to the last 18 holes of the $100,000 event serving as the fifth leg of the Philippine Golf Tour Asia put up by ICTSI.
“I struggled on the very slow greens. I’m not used to that kind of condition but the rains in the morning did the damage damping them,” said Jordan, who shared the halfway lead with Zanieboy Gialon after Que blundered with a double-bogey on the par-5 18th at resumption of his rain-suspended second round play early yesterday.
Que hardly recovered from that 7, gunning down just two birdies against two bogeys in the third round but built some kind of momentum and confidence with that final hole birdie going to the final round of the annual event sponsored by Aboitiz Equity Ventures and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments Inc.
He also rued his shaky putting in the first 13 holes, including a par-putt miss from just about a couple of feet on No. 11 and about three or four others for birdies from short range although he bounced back with two birdies in the last five holes to tie the Thai at second.
“I believe that’s a good sign for me in the final round,” said Que, a multi-titled winner eyeing a breakthrough here at Aboitiz after two runner-up efforts in 2013 and last year.
Tantipokhakul likewise had to buck a roller-coaster round that included three birdies against three bogeys in the first 14 holes, coming through with that closing birdie that put the Thai bet in contention for a first victory in the event offering $17,500 to the winner.
Bibat, seeking an end to a long title spell, sustained his second round 67 with a 34 start on his 34th birthday, rammed in another birdie on No. 14 but missed going four-under with a muffed putt from five on the 18th. He took solo fourth at 208 after a 69.
Lesser lights Keanu Jahns and James Ryan Lam pulled within two shots midway through with under-par cards but wavered in the end with both settling for a pair of 70s for joint fifth at 209 with two-time champion Jay Bayron, who turned in an eagle-aided 70, and Peter Stojanovski of Macedonia, who charged back into contention with a bogey-free 67.
Reigning PGT Order of Merit Clyde Mondilla rallied with a 68 but stood five strokes behind at 210 in the company of Jun Bernis (71), Jobim Carlos (72) and Gialon, who crumbed under pressure and hobbled with a 75.
Young Korean Kim Joo Hyung and Thai Wisut Artjanawat also failed to get going and ended up with identical 72s for 211s in a tie with Tony Lascuña, who saw his title bid fizzle out with a 75, along with Canadian Lee Sang and Aussie Tim Stewart, who both shot 73s.
Jhonnel Ababa, winner of the rain-shortened Club Filipino de Cebu Invitational last week who also won the last PGT Asia leg at Forest Hills last July, rebounded from a bogey start with five birdies but his 68 kept him way behind at 212, seven strokes behind Jordan after the penultimate round of the blue-ribbon event backed by ICTSI, Custom Clubmakers, Meralco, Champion, Summit Mineral Water, K&G Golf Apparel, BDO, Sharp, KZG, PLDT and M.Y. Shokai Technology, Inc.
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