Australian Andrew Campbell eagled two par-5s and birdied the two others as he shot a seven-under 65 to wrest a two-stroke lead over Swede Oskar Arvidsson at the start of the $100,000 CAT (Central Azucarera de Tarlac) Open at the Luisita Golf and Country Club in Tarlac on Wednesday.
Campbell bucked the early morning gusts with his power drives and set up the eagle putts with superb iron play—the first from 20 feet out on No. 9 and the other from just about a foot-length on No. 12. He added six birdies that more than made up for his three missed-green bogeys for a 32-33 card.
“I really hit good drives today (yesterday). The fairways were in great shape and I was able to take advantage by placing shots where I wanted them,” said Campbell, out to snap a couple of mediocre finishes on the Philippine Golf Tour Asia.
But Arvidsson is just right behind at five-under 67, an impressive output for a player debuting on the region’s newest circuit put up by ICTSI and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
He rattled off three birdies in a solid backside start at the challenging par-72 layout then the winner of the PGM Kuala Lumpur Championship of the ADT last year rebounded from a bogey mishap on the tricky par-3 No. 2 with a stirring three-birdie binge to close out his round.
The two foreign aces’ early surge also relegated the locals to the background in the circuit the latter have dominated with victories in the first four legs. And it took an unheralded troika of Rolando Marabe Jr., Kris Etter and Benjie Magada to take the cudgels for the hosts with 69s in tougher condition in the afternoon for joint third.
Tony Lascuña, winner of the last PGTA leg at Wack Wack, rebounded from a three-over card after three holes with five birdies and got back into early contention with a 70 in a tie with six others, including PGTA Riviera champion Clyde Mondilla, who sizzled at the back with three birdies but fumbled with bogeys on Nos. 1 and 6 before hitting another birdie on the eighth.
Other two-under par scorers were Singapore’s Choo Tze Huang, Charles Hong, Justin Quiban, Joenard Rates and Gerald Rosales.
Thai Wisut Artjanawat hit four birdies but stumbled with three bogeys for a 71, dropping to joint 13th with Rufino Bayron, Michael Bibat, Paul Echavez, Jelbert Gamolo, Keanu Jahns, Rey Pagunsan, Nilo Salahog, Elmer Salvador, Andreas Gronkvist, also of Sweden, Dutch Guido Van der Valk, and Macedonian Peter Stojonovski.
Zanieboy Gialon aced the 155-yard No. 13 using an 8-iron Callaway Apex and Titleist ball No. 6 but could only churn out a 72, his opening round bid hampered by a double-bogey on par-3 No. 6. Joining him at 25th are Jhonnel Ababa, Ira Alido, Marvin Dumandan, Arnold Villacencio, Aussie Hayden Beard, Thais Natchanon Varapornkittirat and Parama Chansue, Andrew Marshall and Matt Killen of Great Britain, all seven shots off Campbell.
With the course in great shape, the 28-year-old Sydney native made scoring look easy despite windy condition.
“With the nice condition of the course, it was easier to play even against the strong winds in the morning,” said the lanky, pony-tailed Campbell, winner of this year’s Vanuata Golf Open back home.
Ranged against Mhark Fernando and Mars Pucay, Campbell bucked a missed green bogey on No. 3 with birdies in the next two, rammed in another birdie on the seventh before drilling a 20-foot eagle putt on No. 9. He birdied No. 10 to go five-under then hacked a solid 7-iron second shot from 205 yards for a tap-in eagle before trading two birdies with the same number of bogeys, including on No. 17, in the last six holes.
Other backers of the event are Custom Clubmakers, Meralco, Champion, Summit Mineral Water, K&G Golf Apparel, BDO, Sharp, KZG, PLDT and M.Y. Shokai Technology, Inc., are Jay Bayron, Macedonian Peter Stojanovski, Ferdie Aunzo, Thai Wisut Artjanawat. Mars Pucay, Mhark Fernando, Aussie Andrew Campbell, Marvin Dumandan, Orlan Sumcad, Korean Park Jun Sung, Jhonnel Ababa, Spain’s Salvador Paya Vila, Keanu Jahns, Aussie Simon Vitakangas, Swede Andreas Gronkvist, Dutch Guido Van der Valk and Englishman Grant Jackson.