Unheralded Albin Engino came out a two-hour delay due to lightning unruffled and fired three birdies coming home for a second straight two-under 69, grabbing a share of the lead with two others halfway through the $60,000 ICTSI Riviera Classic at Langer course in Silang, Cavite on Thursday.
Engino came through with superb iron shots to set up birdies from close range at the front, hitting a four-footer on No. 2, a pin high on No. 5 and a tap-in on the seventh, turning a so-so 37 start at the back into a solid 69 for a rare view of the top at 138 with Charles Hong and Robert Pactolerin.
India’s Shubhankar Sharma, meanwhile, had a running three-under card after 15 holes for a four-under aggregate when play was suspended due to darkness.
“The long break helped a lot since I became relaxed at resumption and got my putting going,” said Engino, who also produced an explosive windup of a five-under 31 at the back in the first round Wednesday.
Hong, who opened with an eagle and birdie in the first round but ended up with an even 71, struck back this time, putting in a rare flawless 67 in tough condition to put him in the title contention after dominating the local field at ICTSI Sherwood Hills Classic last month.
The ace Cebuano shotmaker blazed home with back-to-back birdies from No. 16 at dusk to cap his solid 34-33 card and force a four-way logjam in the four-day championship sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc.
But Engino and Hong will be as much tested as Pactolerin and Sharma in today’s pivotal round as the other fancied bets are expected to make their respective moves to gain a crack at the top $10,500 purse in Saturday’s final round.
Pactolerin also continued to dish out top form, gunning down a birdie on No. 5 to save another 69 while Sharma, 18, took the cudgels for the foreign bets with a 68 after erstwhile joint leaders Nils Floren of Sweden and England’s Grant Jackson, who shot 68s Wednesday, tumbled with similar 73s.
Thai Pavit Tangkamolprasert, ranked No. 5 on the ADT OOM with a runner-up and third place finishes in the first five legs of the ADT, both in Malaysia, shot a 67 to lead the 139 scorers who included England’s Peter Richardson and local bets Michael Bibat, Miguel Tabuena and Elmer Salvador while Rey Pagunsan stood a shot farther back at 140 after a second 70, guaranteeing a shootout in the final two rounds of the sixth leg of the ADT and the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour.
Bibat, chasing a follow-up to his maiden win at ICTSI Palos Verdes last year, also rallied with a 33 at the front to salvage a 70, while Tabuena, due for a big win, likewise came out strong after the break, shooting four birdies after dropping a shot for the second straight day on No. 2 for a 68.
Salvador, the back-to-back Aboitiz Invitational champion, rammed in four birdies against three bogeys to likewise stay in the hunt with a 70.