Jay Bayron rode on a blistering four-birdie binge coming home at the front to wrest control then bucked a bogey finish with a 66, moving past erstwhile leader Micah Shin of the US and a charging Dutch Guido Van der Valk halfway through the ICTSI Bacolod Golf Challenge at the Bacolod Golf and Country Club in Binitin in Bacolod on Thursday.
Bayron flashed superb iron play and steady putting coming off a bogey-bogey mishap at the back where he teed off, drilling in four straight birdies from No. 3 inside six feet to take charge but missed going 2-up with a second straight bogey on the tough par-4 ninth of the par-70 layout.
“I just got a bit lucky on my second nine and my putting clicked,” said Bayron, who actually pressed his bid early with birdies on Nos. 10, 13 and 16. “But I made poor decisions and was really upset over my bogeys on Nos. 17 and 18.”
Still, the veteran Davaoeño campaigner, the former Asian Development Tour Order of Merit winner who last won at Summit Point last year, recovered big at the front, his closing 32 and 66 shoving him past two foreign rivals with a seven-under 133 heading to the last 36 holes of the P1.5 million event sponsored by ICTSI.
Van der Valk, a regular Philippine Golf Tour campaigner still in search for a breakthrough win, bolstered his bid this time with an impressive 32-33 card spiked by three birdies at the front, catching Shin at 134 after the young American based in Davao slowed down with two birdies against one bogey for a 69 after beating the course – and the elite field – with a 65 Wednesday.
“I struggled with my short game and missed a couple of short putts,” rued Shin, who for a while looked headed for another superb round after hitting two birdies at the front, only to be stymied with flubbed putts at the back, the last resulting to a bogey on No. 16.
After yielding just 10 under-par scores in the first round, the BGCC took some beating with 23 breaking pars as the pros finally figured out the short but tight, tree-lined layout with Tony Lascuña reviving his hopes for a third straight victory with a flawless four-under 66.
“I could’ve shot better if not for two missed birdie putts at the front,” said Lascuña, who turned in a mediocre 70 in the first round but gunned down four birdies yesterday, including three in the last six holes.
The Eagle Ridge and Forest Hills legs champion moved to solo fourth at 136, three adrift of Bayron, even as Cassius Casas, who aced No. 8 Wednesday to salvage a 70, sustained his fightback with a 67 to grab solo fifth at 137.
Local favorite Orlan Sumcad and Johvanie Abano carded second straight 69s to join Benjie Magada, who fired a 67, at sixth at 138 while Keanu Jahns made a 69 to join Joenard Rates, who matched par 70, at 139, six shots off the pace in the event backed by Custom Clubmakers, adidas, KZG, Summit Mineral Water, Srixon, Pacsports, TaylorMade, Sharp and Champion.
Forty players made it to the last two rounds with two-leg winner Clyde Mondilla bouncing back from a disastrous 78 with a 67 and making the cut at 145, the same output put in by Rodrigo Cuello (72), Jimmy Bayron (73), Korean Park Jun Song (74), Nelson Huerva (72), Elmer Salvador (71) and Danny Zarate (71).
Noted casualties were Rey Pagunsan (74-146), Ferdie Aunzo (75-148), Charles Hong (76-149) and Rufino Bayron (72-151) Other sponsors are Alaska, David’s Salon, Intercare, Gu gel, Kenneth Cobonpue, Megaworld Mactan Newtown, Sun Life Financial, TYR, media partners The Philippine Star, ABS-CBN Sports+Action, TriLife Magazine, AsiaTri, FinisherPix, technology partner Xurpas, official hotels Shangri-La Mactan Resort and Spa, Be Resorts Mactan, Crimson Resort and Spa Mactan, Waterfront Hotel and Casino Mactan, Movenpick Hotel Mactan Island Cebu and official registration partner Active Network.