Ira Alido nearly blew a fiery start with a shaky windup, settling for a two-under 70 and dropping to joint lead with Japanese Toru Nakajima and Jay Bayron at the start of the ICTSI Eagle Ridge Challenge at the Faldo course in Gen. Trias, Cavite on Wednesday.
Alido upstaged the stellar field with four birdies at the front but the sophomore pro fumbled with a double-bogey on the par-3 No. 11 and missed grabbing the solo lead in the P2.5 million championship kicking off the Philippine Golf Tour season.
In contrast, Nakaljima, out to end a long title spell in the circuit, rebounded from a poor start with a strong finish, closing out with a 32, spiked by four birdies in the first five holes at the back while Bayron survived a roller-coaster windup to turn in a 34-36 card and force a three-way tie for the lead.
Dutch Guido Van der Valk actually matched the troika’s two-under card but dropped off the joint lead with bogeys in the last two holes at the front. He finished with a 72 for solo fourth.
“Unlike last week at The Country Club, the winds are a bit manageable and I hit it pretty good with my driver and wedge although it’s tough on the greens,” said Alido, who missed the Solaire Philippine Open cut in wicked conditions at TCC.
The other fancied bets, however, struggled in windy condition and unpredictable surface, enabling Alido, Bayron and Nakajima to wrest control in the early going of the 72-hole championship sponsored by ICTSI and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Multi-titled Tony Lascuña gunned down four birdies but made five bogeys to slip to joint fifth at 73 with Michael Bibat and American Nicolas Paez while PGT Asia two-leg winner Jhonnel Ababa blew a back-to-back birdie feat from No. 15 with a double-bogey on the par-3 17th and hobbled with a 74.
Other two over par scorers were Reymon Jaraula, Cookie La’O, Joenard Rates and Nilo Salahog while Americans Paul Harris, Dylan Jackson and Andy Kang all shot 75s for joint 13th with PGTA leg winner Justin Quiban, Kris Etter, Francis Morrila and Park Jun Hyeok.
Worse was Clyde Mondilla, who failed to check his slump with a horrible 41 at the back. He parred the last nine holes but the reigning PGT Order of Merit champion found himself down in joint 37th and in danger of missing the 40-plus cut.
Alido, who finished at No. 22 in the OOM in his rookie season, birdied Nos. 2, 5, 8 and 9 in an impressive start. But he reeled back with that mishap on the 11th, rebounded with a birdie on the next but dropped a stroke on No. 16.
Nakajima, who scored a wire-to-wire triumph at Wack Wack for his first and only PGT victory in 2013, overcame a 38 start with three straight birdies from No. 10 and added another on No. 14 while Bayron failed to sustain a solid 34 start with a birdie-bogey-birdie-bogey ride from No. 12.
Frankie Miñoza also groped for form with a 78 and fell into the group of Elmer Salvador, Korean Park Jun Sung and Japanese Keisuke Takahashi 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.