Brothers Rufino and Jay Bayron rode on a pair of explosive frontside windup and took the 1-2 posts with 63 and 65, respectively, as Tony Lascuña and Miguel Tabuena found the going tough and matched 69s at the start of the ICTSI Negros Occidental Classic at the Negros Occidental Golf and Country Club in Bacolod City.
There were no fireworks from the two fancied players in the elite field as Lascuña, coming off a three-leg win, failed to sustain a three-birdie string from No. 5 and stumbled with three bogeys against one more birdie and Tabuena, back in the fold after a two-month stint abroad, also mixed four birdies against three bogeys despite ideal playing conditions at the tight, hazard-laden par-70 layout.
Clyde Mondilla, back-to-back winner at Eastridge and Calatagan, outgunned Lascuña and Tabuena in the featured flight, recovering from an opening hole bogey with six birdies, including on the par-5 18th to card a 65.
But that still put the rising Del Monte star two strokes off Rufino Bayron, who rattled off five birdies coming home at the front to string nines of 30-33 for a seven-under card and wrest control five days after missing the cut at Binitin.
It was indeed a big rebound by the former Asian Development Tour winner at Orchard in 2014 as he grabbed a two-stroke lead over Jay, a consistent top five finisher in the last five legs of the circuit sponsored by ICTSI, who gunned down four birdies to complete a 31-34 round and lead four others with five-under cards, including Mondilla, Zanieboy Gialon, Joenard Rates and Dutch Guido Van der Valk.
Gialon missed grabbing solo second with a bogey on No. 8, settling for a 33-32; Rates, seeking a follow-up to his maiden win in Baguio in 2012, birdied his first three holes at the front then added two more on Nos. 9 and 12 to complete a bogey-free 31-34 round; while Van der Valk, who lost in a three-man playoff at Binitin won by Lascuña over the weekend, also joined the birdie-binge at the short frontside, ramming in four to likewise post a 31-34 start.