THAI Pasavee Lertvilai shot a gutsy 73 in exacting condition while Justin Quiban rallied with three straight birdies from No. 14 to save a 74 as they caught a faltering Zanieboy Gialon at the helm in the rain-hit third round of the ICTSI Wack Wack Championship at WW East course yesterday.
With the wind finally blowing and adding to the challenge at the tight, challenging layout, pars and bogeys proved to be the norm although Lertvilai, Quiban and Gialon came through with late birdies to force a three-way tie at one-under 215, guaranteeing a wild, wooly finish in the $100,000 championship put up by ICTSI.
Tony Lascuña, five behind Gialon after 36 holes, made it a four-way battle for the top $17,500 purse in the event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. as he pooled a 216 after a 73. The many-time Philippine Golf Tour Order of Merit winner actually grabbed a piece of the lead at two-under overall despite an even par card through 17 holes but bogeyed the par-4 18th for the second straight day.
“I’m still at it anyway. No lead is safe here at WW East and it’s going to be anybody’s race tomorrow (today),” said Lascuña.
American Nicolas Paez fired one of the day’s three best scores of 71 to force another three-way tie for fifth at 218, just three shots off the pace, with James Ryan Lam and obscured Rolando Marabe Jr. turning in 72 and 73, respectively.
Marcus Both blew a two-under card after 11 holes as he bogeyed four of the last seven holes. But the Aussie ace’s 54-hole aggregate of 219 put him just four strokes adrift, a deficit not too big to overcome on a course as tough as the fabled WW layout.
Michael Bibat, 11 shots off Gialon at the start of the round, nearly squandered a four-under card after five holes, including three straight from No. 3, with two bogeys and a double-bogey but hit two birdies against one more bogey to log the other 71 for a 220 in a tie with Jobim Carlos, who also hobbled with a 75.
Three-up halfway through the event, Gialon went on an attack mode after birdying the first two holes and threatening to pull away, only to fumble and stumble with two double-bogeys and four bogeys at the back, needing to birdie the last from five feet to card a 77.
“I should’ve played it safe. I thought I could sustain my hot start but I lost my rhythm and hit some bad shots,” rued Gialon, adding that he needs to toughen up mentally tomorrow (today) to get a crack at the top $17,500 purse in the fourth leg of the PGT Asia sponsored by ICTSI.
Like the rest of the surviving 56-player field, Quiban struggled in demanding condition, free-falling from second with three bogeys and a double-bogey in a birdie-less stint after 13 holes. But he put his act together in time, stringing three straight birdies from No. 14 to get back into the thick of things with 74.
“I struggled but I was able to keep it together in the closing holes,” said Quiban, who moved 18 holes away from nailing a breakthrough victory in a young career after losing steam in last week’s Manila Masters at Southwoods where he wound up joint fifth.
Lertvilai, who lost the PGT Asia Splendido leg crown to Rene Menor in a playoff last September, also kept his sights on the crown, birdying two of the first five holes then rebounding from a four-over card in a six-hole stretch from No. 6 with a clutch birdie on No. 16 for a 73.
That sets the stage for a thrilling finale in 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.
“This is going to be a survival of the fittest. The course is tough and each shot is crucial,” said the veteran Lascuña, who has had a number of titles tucked under his belt but still in search for a first crown in the region’s newest circuit.
“I just hope to regain my touch and confidence. I really wanted to win but I need to play it wise,” said Gialon, seeking a follow-up to his runaway victory at ICTSI Calatagan last June.