Cavinti, Laguna—Zanieboy Gialon outduelled Clyde Mondilla with an early birdie blitz then held sway at the back to fire a 67 and seize a one-stroke lead over Joenard Rates at the start of the ICTSI Caliraya Springs Championship here yesterday.
Only 12 players produced under-par rounds in preferred lies at the Caliraya Springs Golf Club course hosting the Philippine Golf Tour and the Ladies PGT for the first time and the 78-player starting field, including 19 in the distaff side, all reveled at the challenge that the Arnold Palmer-designed had presented in the early going of the four-day invitational PGT and the 54-hole LPGT championship.
“The course is good, this being the first time that it is hosting the PGT. It has a good setup, good greens and good weather,” said Gialon, seeking to snap out of a long title spell in the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
More importantly, he had a good, solid start.
The 2017 ICTSI Calatagan winner birdied four of the first six holes inside 12 feet then bucked a two-bogey mishap at the back, including on the par-4 17th after overshooting the green, with three birdies to upstage the more fancied Mondilla, a playoff loser to absentee Miguel Tabuena at the ICTSI Luisita Championsip in Tarlac last month.
The 32-year-old Davaoeno, whose campaign is backed by businessman Carlo Quimson and Coast Guard Admiral Roy Echeveria, used just 24 putts to highlight his 32-35 round and fuel his title drive in the P2 million championship sponsored by ICTSI.
Mondilla actually grappled with his balky putter at the front, mixing two birdies with the same number of bogeys but cranked up his game at the turn, gunning down an eagle on the par-5 No. 12 then closing out with two birdies against a bogey in the last three holes.
The former Philippine Open champion signed a 69 for solo third as the diminutive Rates took the early challenger’s role with a solid 68, spiked by three birdies in the first nine holes of the par-72 layout situated at the foot of Mt. Banahaw.
“It’s a challenging course even with the wind at its manageable level,” said Rates. “Maganda ang ball placing and my putting clicked.”
The same could not be said of Mondilla, who flubbed four putts inside six feet.
“I struggled with my putting and missed a lot of chances. But the course is good—fairways, greens and the entire layout.
I would say, it’s anybody’s game,” said Mondilla. “I hope I have gotten the feel of the greens. Sana lang, mag click na.”
“My driving is ok although it will still depend on the wind,” he added.
Stalking the troika with 71s are a merry mix of seasoned campaigners and lesser lights, including Jhonnel Ababa, Richard sinfuego, Ira Alido, Albin Engino, Tony Lascuna, Anthony Fernando, Rufino Bayron, Michael bibat and Reymon Jaraula.