Rufino Bayron hobbled at the finish and barely grabbed the lead with a 68 as Tony Lascuña wavered with a 73 in windy condition at Taal Splendido in the second round of the $100,000 ICTSI Splendido Classic in Tagaytay.
Bayron bogeyed two of the last four holes in a shocking meltdown for a player who impressed the elite PGA Asia Tour field with his awesome shotmaking and superb iron game that netted him a bogey-free 69 Thursday and a six-birdie feat after 14 holes yesterday.
But he succumbed to pressure when the going got tough in the closing holes and stumbled to his first bogey on No. 15 off a bunker play then dropped another shot on the closing hole.
Still, his seven-under 137 shoved him past Lascuña on the leaderboard as the latter slid to second at 138 with a one-over card after a 65 while Jhonnel Ababa also moved into contention with at 139 with three others after a gutsy bogey-less 68 in scorching heat.
“With Lascuña and Ababa, this is going to be a good fight,” said Bayron, who last won in the Orchard Championship in 2014 and missed the cut in the PGT Asia Tour kickoff leg at Southwoods last month. “But I have to play steady and be consistent with my shots.”
After an impressive 65 in the first round and an opening birdie on No. 10 yesterday, Lascuña struggled the rest of the way, limping with five bogeys against three more birdies but fell just by one stroke with 36 holes to play in the 72-hole championship sponsored by ICTSI and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
“I couldn’t hit the shots that I wanted. I could’ve gone low again but no luck with my shots,” rued Lascuña, who vowed to rebound with a low score in the pivotal third round today.
American John Michael O’Toole, who matched par 72 in the first day, actually threatened with a six-under after 17 hopes but bogeyed his closing par-5 hole on No. 9 and finished with a 67, dropping to joint third with Ababa, Rene Menor and Micah Shin.
Menor slowed down with a 71 after a 68 but remained just two shots behind for a crack at a first-ever championship, while Shin rattled off five birdies against two bogeys for a 69 and stayed in the hunt for a second victory after scoring a breakthrough at Luisita in 2015.
Elmer Salvador, winner here in last year’s ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour leg, also fought back with a 69 to share seventh with Arnold Villacencio, who carded a second 70, at 140 while Clyde Mondilla also wavered despite hitting an eagle on No. 2, finishing with four bogeys against a birdie in a wind-blown 73 at the challenging mountaintop course.
The Del Monte ace, winner of two legs on the PGT this year, pooled a 141 and stood four behind in the company of Jerson Balasabas, Rico Depilo, Nelson Huerva, Macedonian Peter Stojanovski and Thai Pasavee Lertvelai.
Balasabas birdied three of the first 10 holes at the back and added two more on Nos. 4 and 5 but dropped a stroke on the sixth fro a 35-33 card; Depilo hit six birdies to negate a double-bogey and two bogeys; Huerva fought back from a 74 start with six birdies after 16 holes but fumbled with a bogey on the 17th; Stojanovski birdied two of the last three holes to stay in contention, and Lertvelai, the PGTA Q-School topnotcher, birdied two of the last four holes at the front to shoot a 70.
Fifty players made the cut at 148, including Ferdie Aunzo (72), Paul Echavez (75), Swede Andreas Gronkvist (77) and American Lexus Keoninh (73) with the likes of Gerald Rosales (74), Mhark Fernando (75), Zanieboy Gialon (77), Korean Hwang Myung Chal (75), Singaporean Dengshan Koh (74), Aussie Daniel Morgan (74), Cookie La’O (74), Orlan Sumcad (74) and Dutch Guido Van der Valk (74) failing to advance with 149s 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.