Rufino Bayron upstaged fancied Angelo Que and Scot Clarke Lutton despite slowing down with a 71 after a record-setting 10-under 62 as he kept a three-stroke lead over new pursuer Tomokazu Yoshinaga of Japan in the third round of the ICTSI Orchard Golf Championship at Orchard’s Palmer course in Dasmariñas, Cavite on Friday.
Bayron turned from rock-solid to wobbly overnight as he fumbled with a one-over 37 at the front on three bogeys against two birdies hours after breaking Juvic Pagunsan’s previous low of 63 in winning the 2011 edition of this event with a bogey-free 62 late Thursday.
But the former amateur hotshot still in search of a breakthrough pro victory in five years regained his touch at the back after another two-hour delay due to lightning, birdying two of the first six holes but made a bogey-birdie-par finish to settle for that 71 and a 54-hole aggregate of 14-under 202.
“I think I have a big chance now but I have to improve my iron game to win,“ said Bayron, who struggled with his approach shots on Nos. 3, 4, 5 and 16 which he bogeyed on missed green mishaps.
Yoshinaga, in a flight ahead with fellow Japanese Masaru Takahashi and Cassius Casas, took the challenger’s role when all the others tumbled down one after the other, shooting a 67 for a 205.
The spearhead of the 11-man Japanese contingent, who placed ninth in last week’s ICTSI Riviera Classic, gunned down seven birdies to negate a two-bogey mishap and gain a crack at the top $10,500 purse heading to the final 18 holes of the event sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc.
While Bayron stressed the need to work on his iron game, Yoshinaga hopes to improve on his putting after fumbling wit three-putt bogeys on Nos. 4 and 10 that marred an otherwise impressive round that featured seven birdies, the farthest from 25 feet.
Ferdie Aunzo, also seeking an end a long title drought, moved into contention at 10-under 206 after putting his best round in years, a seven-under 65 spiked by four straight birdies from No. 5.
“I just got the right line and allowance for my putts,” said Aunzo, who sank a 19-footer on No. 5, barely missed an eagle-putt from 25 feet on the next, tapped in for birdie on No. 7 and banged in an eight-footer on the eighth.
Aunzo, who last won on the Asean Golf Tour in 2011, sustained his form at the back and birdied Nos. 10, 14 and 18 inside six feet to earn a rare spot in the championship flight in the $60,000 event wrapping up the two-week Asian Development Tour swing here.
James Ryan Lam, one of the rising stars on the local circuit, earlier took the second spot with a sterling six-under card after 14 holes but a disastrous triple-bogey mishap on the par-4 No. 15, where he drove out of bounds, pulled him down, finishing with a 68 for a nine-under 207 in a tie with Jhonnel Ababa, who shot a 68.
Que, the first day joint leader who fell behind Bayron by five at midway point, also made a late charge with back-to-back birdies from No. 11 but dropped two strokes on the par-4 No. 13 and finished with a 72 and a 208 for joint sixth with Arnold Villacencio, who fired a 69, and Takahashi, who carded a 71.
Clyde Mondilla and Michael Bibat turned in identical 69s to tie Rene Menor, who made a 70, at 209, while Lutton, who turned in a 68 and 69 in the first two rounds, bogeyed two of the last three holes and hobbled with a 73 to fall to 210 with Japan’s Konosune Nakazato, who rallied with a 66, Aussie RJ Caracella, who shot a 69, American Brett Munson and Keanu Jahns, who both had 71s, and first round co-leader Casas, who faded with a 72.