Angelo Que came out scorching with birdies and an eagle in one of the late afternoon flights and shot a bogey-free seven-under 65, catching an early-starting Jhonnel Ababa at the helm while Tony Lascuna likewise sizzled late with a flawless 66 as the local aces took charge in the opener of the $100,000 Aboitiz Invitational at Riviera’s Couples course in Silang, Cavite.
On a day three-peat seeking Elmer Salvador fumbled with a 73 under preferred lies rules, Que flashed awesome putting touch all day, opening with a 20-foot birdie putt on No. 1 and burying an eagle-bid from 30 feet off a solid Hybrid 2 shot from 236 yards on the par-5 second hole.
Que tapped in for another birdie on No. 5 then rammed in back-to-back birdies from No. 7 inside six feet to make the turn at 30.
The former Philippine Open champion, however, cooled down at the back with just one birdie on No. 11 that proved enough to keep him in step with Ababa, who earlier slugged it out with Benjie Magada in a shootout to fire the first 65 in the 72-hole championship sponsored by Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Inc.
Ababa sustained a near-flawless stint for a 32-33 card and while Magada rallied with five straight birdies from No. 14 for a 67 (36-31).
Thai Pasamet Pogamnerd, the third player in the group that teed off in benign condition at 7:10 a.m., watched in awe as Ababa and Magada went on a birdie-binge, barely recovering from a two-bogey mishap after six holes with three birdies in the next 12 holes for a 71.
Ababa hit eight birdies, including five on the dreaded frontside of the par-72 layout, softened and made longer by rain the past two days, negating his lone bogey miscue on the par-4 No. 4 where he made a poor pitch and failed to sink a six-footer for par.
Magada’s fiery finish came as a big surprise with the veteran shotmaker, who last won in 2010 at Orchard, virtually resigned to a so-so opener after gunning down two birdies against a double-bogey and 10 pars.
Magada sank a 12-footer on No. 14 to fuel his sizzling windup that put him in joint fourth wtih Thais Poosit Supupramai and Pijit Petchkasem and American Casey O’Toole, two shots off the hot-starting Ababa and Que.
Ababa knocked down a four-footer on No. 15, made two putts for birdie on the par-5 16th before closing out with a pair of three-footers.
While Que leaned on his solid putting, Lascuna, the reigning back-to-back ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour Order of Merit champion, rued his four flubbed birdie chances inside eight feet.
Miguel Tabuena, the best-placed Filipino in the current ADT Order of Merit ranking at No. 15, shot a four-under 68 in a tie with American Brett Munson and Miguel Ochoa while unheralded Richard Abaring made a 69 for joint 11th with Swede Malcolm Kokocinski and veteran Asian Tour campaigner Mars Pucay.