TARLAC—Ira Alido moved on the threshold of a second Philippine Golf Tour win with an eagle-spiked 67, pulling ahead of the stellar pack as Frankie Miñoza holed out with a bogey for a 71 in a furious third round battle that saw the surge of a mix of veterans in the ICTSI Luisita Championship here yesterday.
“Third day, moving day. I really need to get close to the leader to have a chance,” said Alido, who bucked a bogey on the first hole with a cluster of birdies and an eagle on the par-5 ninth for a 32. He slowed down with a two-birdie, one-bogey card at the back but it proved enough to shove him to the top at 208.
With his day’s best five-under card and an eight-under overall total, Alido didn’t only keep himself in the hunt for a follow-up to his come-from-behind win in Bacolod last March. He turned himself into being the hunted in what looms to be a wild finish to the P2 million championship.
Mars Pucay, once billed as the next Miñoza for his sterling amateur career, found himself within a stroke off Alido with a 68 that tied him for second at 209 with the Del Monte ace and defending champion Miguel Tabuena, who fired a 69, while Jay Bayron stayed within striking distance at 210 despite falling off the joint lead with Minoza after a 72.
Though multi-titled Angelo Que and Michael Bibat trailed the joint leaders by four at 212 after a 70 and 73, respectively, and Fidel Concepcion, Dino Villanueva, Japanese Atsushi Ueda and Gialon stood another shot farther back at 213, no lead is safe at the Luisita Golf and Country Club, a risk-and-reward course.
Kim Min Seong found it a bit late as the Korean, in joint lead with Alido and Minoza at 8-under overall after 16 holes, came out of the treacherous, water-laced par-3 17th crushed after dropping three balls and logging a 9 on his scorecard.
He wound up with a 74 and tumbled to joint 12th with compatriot Rho Hyun Ho, who rallied with a 68, at 214.
Alido said he didn’t drive too well in another punishing day, hitting 10 fairways and reaching regulation 13 times. But he flourished on the tricky Luisita greens and finished with 23 putts.
“I’m very confident with the way I’m playing,” said Alido, who birdied Nos. 3, 7 and 8, then hit a solid 3-iron second shot from 220 yards to within 15 feet and made the putt.
Pucay likewise banked on his putting to put himself in title contention in a long, long while and the former amateur hotshot is hopeful to sustain his charge in a bid to nail a first victory since winning at Southlinks in 2014.
“My putting just came back and I’m happy with how I’m putting the past two days,” said Pucay, who bounced back from an opening 72 with a 69 Wednesday.
“If I can make more birdies and keep my mistakes to a minimum, I think I’ll have a chance,” said Pucay. “Fairways and greens and let’s see what happens on the greens. Hopefully, tuloy-tuloy ang putting ko tomorrow (today).”
Minoza, 63, continued to stir up play with a sustained assault on the tight, challenging layout, racking up three birdies at the front in the heat. While he wavered with two bogeys in the last five holes, including on No. 18, the multi-titled former Asian Tour No. 1 stayed very much in the hunt for a victory against the young guns.
“I’m feeling very, very tired. But one more round at tingnan natin kung ano mangyayari bukas (today),” said Minoza, adding a two- or three-under closing effort might net him another title.
“Experience-wise, I have the edge pero sana may gasolina pa na matira para bukas,” he added.
Tabuena, on the other hand, worked his way back into contention with three backside birdies as he likewise gained a clear shot at the title he won via sudden death over Clyde Mondilla last year.
Mondilla, meanwhile, carded a 70 to improve to joint 14th at 215 but Caliraya Springs leg champion Tony Lascuna hardly recovered from a second round 73 with a 72 for a share of 17th at 216.