This couldn’t get any tighter. But it’s the lesser-fancied bets who continued to hog the spotlight, relegating the pro tour’s revered names to the background in the third round of the P1 million ICTSI Summit Point Golf Classic in Lipa, batangas on Friday.
Marvin Dumandan recalled the fiery form that thrust him into the lead in the first round, coming through with a blazing windup for a 67 and back on top at 12-under 204 with Arnold Villacencio, who hung tough with a gutsy 69 with Anthony Fernando likewise moving into contention at 206 after a 67.
With fancied Tony Lascuña failing to launch his patented third round attack that has marked his four victories on the circuit and settled for a 70 for a 208 and ICTSI Riviera Classic winner Elmer Salvador virtually bowing out of the title race with a 70 for a 212, Miguel Tabuena took the cudgels for the favorites as the ICTSI Manila Masters runaway winner fired the day’s best of 66 to jump to joint fourth at 207 with opening day co-leader Dante Becierra.
Still, the title-starved duo of Dumandan and Villacencio have the inside track to the crown and the top P200,000 purse with Fernando also fueling his hopes for a breakthrough victory on the tour sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc.
“At last I’m in the hunt for the crown. It’s been a long time since I last won. But I need to play steady and be able to handle the pressure tomorrow [today],” said Dumandan, who rallied in the final round to beat Carl Santos-Ocampo in the ICTSI John Hay leg in 2012.
Like Dumandan, who closed out with four birdies to get another view of the top, Villacencio hopes to toughen up in the final 18 holes and finally nail the elusive win after a number of failed title bids marred by late-round foldups.
But after a plucky closing 34 in tough condition and salvaging a 69 to at least cling to a share of the lead, Villacencio could only hope for the best as he tries to slay the ghost of his final round collapses.
“It’s going to be a battle of the nerves. Marvin and I are hitting the ball quite well so it’s going to be shootout,” said Villacencio.
Two behind the joint leaders, Fernando, who gunned down seven birdies to negate a two-bogey mishap, also thinks he’s ripe for the picking with former national champion itching to seize the rare moment.
Becierra, another lesser light seeking to shine this week, and Tabuena, out to atone for his playoff loss in the Yeangder Players Championship of the Asian Tour last month, missed closing in on the joint leaders with late bogeys with the former bogeying the par-5 16th and the latter blowing a solid seven-under card after 16 holes with a bogey on the par-3 17th.
Still, the duo remained in strong contention although Lascuna will have a lot of rallying to do to fan his hopes for a fifth crown along with joint sixth-running Cassius Casas, who shot a 69, and Paul Echavez, who carded a 70, for 208s.
Clyde Mondilla made a second 70 in three days for solo ninth at 209 while ICTSI Royal Northwoods leg winner Zanie Boy Gialon fought back with a 68 but stood seven strokes off the pace at 211 in a tie with Edward Reyes, who also shot a 70.