Tarlac—Guido Van der Valk scorched Luisita’s tough backside with a solid 31 and finished with a seven-under 65, moving from joint 21st to the top of the heap even as Juvic Pagunsan fired a bogey-free 69 to wheel back into contention halfway through the ICTSI Luisita Championship at the Luisita Golf and Country Club here yesterday.
The Manila-based Dutchman actually sparked his late charge with a three-birdie string from No. 9 and knocked down three more in the last four to shoulder himself past a slew of rivals and into the lead at seven-under 137 with two rounds left in the $100,000 event kicking off the third season of the Philippine Golf Tour Asia put up by ICTSI.
“Overall, my game was near-perfect. Played pretty well sans the wind although the pin placements were difficult,” said Van der Valk, who missed just two fairways and one green while anchoring his exploits with 28 putts.
That put the 39-year-old shotmaker from Lelystad, the Netherlands 36 holes away from duplicating his breakthrough win in the first leg of the 2018 PGT circuit at Eagle Ridge that ended years of near-misses in the local circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Aiming to just put himself back into contention after a so-so 72 Monday, Van der Valk birdied two of the first five holes, stumbled with a bogey on the next but got going again with that birdie from short range on the ninth.
First round leader Thai Namchok Tantipokhakul slowed down with a 71 after a 67 and slipped to joint second at 138 Finland’s Teemu Putkonen, who turned in a 68, while Jay Bayron hit a late birdie to card a 70 and stood another shot back at 139 with Thai Kammalas Namuangruk, who made a 69.
Putkonen actually surged ahead at eight-under overall on a four-birdie splurge in the first five holes in his closing frontside but double-bogeyed the par-3 sixth and dropped to joint second instead.
Japanese Keita Sudo earlier carded a second straight 70 while Choo Tze Huang of Singapore shot a 71 for joint sixth at 140 with Natthapong Niyomchon (71) while Pagunsan made his move with a 69 to wrest solo ninth at 141, just four strokes behind.
The smooth-swinging Pagunsan, out to atone for his missed cut stint in the Philippine Open two weeks ago, proved awesome off the mound, hitting all but one fairway while saving three pars to preserve a flawless round.
Rufino Bayron shot a 73, Swede Sebastian Hansson and Peter Stojanovski of Macedonia struggled with 74s while Kuresh Samanodi bucked a 77 as they clinched the last four spots at three-over 147s.
Failing to advance are Jun Bernis (72-148), PGTA Summit Point winner Joenard Rates (73-149), Phl Masters titlist Jerson Balasabas (, former PGTA Splendido winner Rene Menor (79-157) and reigning PGT OOM champion Jobim Carlos (75-157).
Defending champion David Gleeson of Australia groped for a 74 but safely made it to the final 36 holes of the event backed by PLDT Enterprise, Meralco, BDO and PGT Asia official apparel Pin High at 146 in the company of Keanu Jahns (74), James Ryan Lam (76), Justin Quiban (73) and Thai Pasavee Lertvilai (75) among others.