ANTIPOLO—Reymon Jaraula shouldered himself past erstwhile joint leaders Ira Alido and Angelo Que with a rare two-eagle feat for a brilliant 66 but had to endure a two hour-long wait before formally claiming a two-stroke lead over Alido midway through the ICTSI Valley Golf Challenge here yesterday.
Lightning just past noon forced the organizing Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. to suspend play, minutes after Jaraula had turned in a near-flawless 32-34 card marked by eagles on Nos. 7 and 17, and moments after Alido and Que took different routes following a spirited battle of shotmaking, putting and poise to stay at the helm for the second straight day.
But while Alido struck back from bogeys on Nos. 2 and 4 with birdies in the next two holes to get into 3-under in the day and seven-under overall, Que, who matched Alido’s first round 68 on a last-hole birdie for a one-stroke lead over Jaraula and three others, fell with a thud with bogeys on Nos. 4 and 6 before play was stopped.
But seven flights ahead, Jaraula was already on his way out of the Valley Golf Club, head held high, together with his confidence, after assembling a nine-under 135 largely behind a sterling round he laced with three birdies that buried a lone mishap on No. 18 and despite dealing with his putting stroke early on.
“I struggled with my putting early on and missed some putts. Although I recovered on some holes, I also failed to sink a couple of putts from short range,” said Jaraula in Filipino.
Alido did knock a third straight birdie at the resumption of play but gave up the stroke on the par-3 No. 8 and finished with a 69 for a 137 although the next two pursuers lay five strokes off the new leader heading to the last 36 holes of the P2 million championship.
“It was a long wait and I lost my momentum from that point but it was still a good round,” said Alido, who turned in a solid four-under card Tuesday. “I made a lot of birdies today (yesterday) but also made too many mistakes.”
Those included bogeys at the front that halted a four-birdie, one-bogey charge from No. 10 although he racked up three straight birdies from No. 5 to re-ignited another run before dropping a stroke on the eighth.
“I wasn’t really worried about it,” said Alido of his miscues. “I knew that I could make up for it and make a couple of birdies down the stretch.”
Korean Chon Koo Kang missed closing in on Jaraula with two bogeys in the last four holes as he ended up with a 71 for joint third at 140 with Tony Lascuna, who put in a second straight 70, while Que, who had an even-par card with three holes to play, holed out with a bogey on the ninth and slipped farther back to joint fifth at 141 after a 73.
Joining him at three-under overall are Zanieboy Gialon, who matched par 72, and Korean Min Seong Kim, who fired a 69, and Japanese Atsushi Ueda, who blew a three-under card with a double-bogey on No. 15 and wrapped up his round with three straight pars for a 71.
Clyde Mondilla also made his move right before the suspension, overcoming bogeys on Nos. 5 and 6 with an eagle on the next on his way to a 69 after a 73 for a 142 in a tie with Philippine Masters champion Jhonnel Ababa, who carded a second 71, and Japanese Gen Nagai, who parred the last three holes at the back to complete a 70.
Lloyd Go, meanwhile, rebounded with a 69 to join six others at 12th at 143, including Fidel Concepcion, Keanu Jahns and Rico Depilo, who matched 70s, Korean Hyun Ho Rho and Dutch Guido van der Valk, who carded identical 71s, and Gabriel Manotoc, who birdied the last hole to save a 73 after a 70.
Justin Quiban, who matched Jaraula, Kang and Gialon’s first round 69, actually grabbed the overall lead before Alido, Que and the rest had teed off as he birdied Nos. 11 and 12 to go five-under overall.
But he yielded it just as quickly with a double-bogey on No. 15 and bogeys in the next two. He battled back with birdies on Nos. 3 and 7 against a bogey on the sixth but dropped strokes in the last two for a 75 and a 144 for joint 19th with Albin Engino, who limped with a 74.
Teeing off at Valley South’s backnine, Jaraula, who finished fourth at Caliraya Springs for his best effort in the first five legs of this year’s Philippine Golf Tour, snapped a run of five pars with a birdie from 6 feet on No. 15 then slashed a 3-wood second shot from 246 yards to within 16 feet and made the eagle putt on the par-5 17th.
Though the Del Monte ace hit a flawed tee-shot on No. 18 and missed an eight-footer for par, he quickly recovered with back-to-back birdies from No. 1 from close range then broke another streak of four pars by reaching No. 7, also a par-5, in two and knocked down the putt from 12 feet.
“Focus lang sa laro at work on my putting,” said Jaraula, now 36 holes away from nailing a second pro win after beating Lascuna on the second playoff hole to snare his first PGT crown at Pueblo de Oro in 2019.
But Alido is likewise hell-bent on scoring a second win after topping the Bacolod kickoff leg, staying within sight of Jaraula despite a late mishap.
Forty two players made the cut at 150, including Carlos Packing (74), Korean Hwan Lee (75), Francis Morilla (76), Gerald Rosales (78) and Dino Villanueva (79), but Marvin Dumandan (75), Rolando Marabe Jr. (75), Sean Ramos (76), Elee Bisera (77) and Ferdie Aunzo (78) missed it by one.