American Paul Harris bounced back strong from a missed cut stint last week with a sizzling start at the back, shooting a four-under 68 and catching Thai Poosit Supupramai at the helm at the start of the $60,000 ICTSI Sherwood Hills Classic at Sherwood Hills Golf Club in Cavite on Wednesday.
Harris actually missed wresting the solo lead with a last-hole bogey on No. 9 but his 36-32 card proved a lot better than his disastrous opening 83 that led to an early exit in last week’s ICTSI Eagle Ridge Invitational, which kicked off a two-week Asian Development Tour swing in the country.
Supupramai, on the other hand, scorched the frontside with three birdies then added three more at the back to negate his bogeys on Nos. 11 and 17 for a share of the lead with Harris, one stroke ahead of another Thai Thammanoon Sriroj, American Josh Salah and Japanese Masaru Takahashi.
Sriroj birdied two of the last four holes to fire a 35-34, Salah missed joining Harris and Supupramai on top with a bogey on the ninth, while Takahashi rallied with three birdies in the last four holes for a closing 33 to stay within sight of the joint leaders in the early going of the 72-hole championship sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc.
Filipino Arnold Villacencio, who snapped a long 27-year title spell at ICTSI Summit Point last year, turned in an impressive 33 start but wavered with three bogeys against two birdies at the back to lead the 70 scorers, who included ADT Order of Merit leader Hsieh Chi-hsien of Taiwan, Aussie Kevin Marques, Singapore’s Mitchell Slorach and local bets Orlan Sumcad and Nelson Huerva.
Charles Hong, who nipped Micah Shin to rule this ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour event last year, fought back with two birdies in the last six holes to salvage a two-over 74 and stay within the cutoff line after a poor start of 38 and two bogeys at the back.
Cassius Casas, winner of two local events last year, and Frankie Minoza, seeking a first big win in a long while, carded identical 71s to join six others at 12th, including Taiwanese Tommy Mu, Kiwi Campbell Rawson and Darren Tan, Englishman Nick Redfern and Rey Pagunsan and Ric Depilo.
Hsieh, trying to firm up his hold of the ADT OOM lead in the absence of last week’s winner and second running Arie Irawan of Malaysia, had a rollercoaster round of five birdies against three bogeys but put himself in early contention in what promises to be a wide open battle for the top $10,500 purse in the this eighth leg of the ADT and fourth on the ICTSI PGT.
The 24-year-old Harris, who placed joint 23rd at ADT Sime Darby and Johor Championships, took charge with birdies on Nos. 12 and 13 before holing out with back-to-back birdies. He went five-under with a birdie on No. 1 but yielded the stroke with a bogey on the seventh before birdying the par-5 No. 8 to go five-under again only to drop another shot on the ninth.
But Supupramai, who placed fifth at Eagle Ridge, surged ahead in a separate flight at the front, putting in a solid 33. He bogeyed No. 11 but gunned down three birdies in the next four holes to storm in front with a five-under card. But like Harris, he faltered with a bogey on No. 17 to settle for that 68.
Twelve others matched par 72 in hot conditions, including Jhonnel Ababa, Anthony Fernando, Rene Menor, Edward Reyes, Gerald Rosales, Richard Sinfuego, Thais Itthipat Buranatanyarat and Chanat Sakulpolphaisan, Taiwanese Wang Cheng-chi, Korean Lee Gyeongjun and Americans Yoon Sejun and Greg Moss while 11 turned in 73s, including top local bets Ferdie Aunzo and Clyde Mondilla.