Danao City, Cebu—Guido Van der Valk blew what had appeared to be another fine start with a floundering finish, hobbling with a two-over 73 and enabling a curious mix of rivals to pull within striking distance after three rounds of the ICTSI Club Filipino de Cebu Invitational at the CFdC layout here yesterday.
Up by six with an impressive opening 66 and a record 65 in the second round, Van der Valk kept his rivals at a safe distance with two birdies in the first eight holes in searing heat. But just when he thought he had mastered the par-71 up-and-down layout and his pursuers held in check, he stumbled with a bogey on the ninth, dropped another stroke on No. 12 and double bogeyed the tricky par-4 14th.
He flubbed a birdie putt on No. 16 and ended up with a 73 and a nine-under 204 total, allowing a horde of others to get a crack at the top P550,000 purse in the P3 million event serving as the third leg of the milestone 10th season of the Philippine Golf Tour sponsored by ICTSI and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments Inc.
Albin Engino, still in search for a maiden victory in nine years, eagled the par-5 15th and sizzled with his putter to produce four birdies against two bogeys as he battled back from eight down to within two at 206 after a 67, and former PGT Asia leg winner Justin Quiban birdied four of the last eight holes to shoot a 67 and tie Michael Bibat, who carded a 68, and Elmer Salvador, who turned in a 69, at 207, just three strokes off the leader.
“My putting clicked and I hope to sustain my form tomorrow (today),” said the Engino, who rolled in a 10-foot eagle off a superb rescue shot from 200 yards on the 15th and buried birdie putts from 15 feet on Nos. 16 and 18.
Despite the shaky finish, the Dutchman insisted he didn’t lose his focus or his touch and remained confident of prevailing in the end.
“I had no problem with my game. It happens, the breaks just went against me down the stretch,” said Van der Valk. “But no predictions but I will play my usual game.”
The Dutchman didn’t only see his huge ead reduce to two but also his record 65 shatter by Aussie David Gleeson, who grabbed some of the spotlight by churning out a brilliant eight-under 63 sparked by an eagle on No. 11 where he started and capped by a stirring six-birdie roll from No. 3.
The former PGT Asia leg winner at Luisita actually missed posting a nine-under card as he holed out with a bogey on the ninth.
Still, it proved enough to put Gleeson back in the race with a 208 in a tie with Rufino Bayron, who shot a 69, while Tony Lascuña also came through with his own birdie-binge (from Nos. 3-6) snapped by a bogey on the eighth. The multi-titled Davaoeño, however, birdied the 14th to finish with a 67 for joint eighth at 210 with Richard Abaring and Mars Pucay, who both sizzled with 66s.
Like Van der Valk, Jay Bayron and defending champion Jhonnel Ababa also struggled in tough conditions in the final flight with 73 and 74, respectively, as the duo tumbled down to a share of 11th at 211.
Rookie pro Lloyd Go also faltered in tough conditions after back-to-back 69s, ending up with a 74 tofall to joint 13th at 212 with Ramil Bisera and Robert Pactolerin, who rallied with 68 and 69, respectively, 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.