Rene Menor banked on a sizzling start at the back to take charge of the elite field but slowed down at the finish and shot a four-under 68, posting a one-stroke lead over rookie pro Jobim Carlos and Gerald Rosales at the start of the ICTSI Manila Masters at the Eastridge Golf Club in Binangonan, Rizal on Wednesday.
Cashing in on an early morning tee time, Menor rattled off three birdies at the back then added two more at Nos. 4 and 5 before the wind whipped up a bit, leading to a missed green bogey on the seventh before the unheralded shotmaker toughened up a bit and salvaged the last two pars.
“I played pretty good. My putting, irons and short game were quite okay. I just hope to sustain this kind of game until the last round,” said Menor. He, however, started late as the 91-player field switches tee times today at the par-71, 7129-yard mountain-top course overlooking Laguna de Bay.
Carlos and Rosales also benefited from an early tee off with the former leaning on a solid 33 start at the front and the latter rallying with three birdies in the last four holes coming home at the front to stay in early contention in the P3.5 million event sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc.
Carlos made two tap-in birdies on par-5 Nos. 2 and 6,
Clyde Mondilla likewise got into the early mix with a 70 while Jay Bayron missed joining Rosales and Carlos with bogeys in the last two holes at the front, dropping to 71 in a tie with veteran Frankie Minoza.
Defending champion Angelo Que groped for form a bit with a 72 despite hitting five birdies, tying Dutch Guido Van der Valk, Mhark Fernando and Japanese Ryoma Miki at seventh while Chris delos Santos and Benjie Magada turned in a pair of 73s for a share of 11th in the tournament backed by Custom Clubmakers, adidas, KZG, Summit Mineral Water, Srixon, Pacsports, TaylorMade, Sharp and Champion.
Que, who ruled this event by two over Miguel Tabuena and Ferdie Aunzo last year, made two double bogeys against a birdie in the first five holes at the back, dropped another stroke on No. 15 before bouncing back with four birdies in the last 10 holes.
The late starters, however, found the going tougher in the afternoon as early favorites Tony Lascuna and Miguel Tabuena – winners of the first two of legs of this year’s circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. stumbled with 74 and 76, respectively.
Lascuna made just one birdie while fumbling with four bogeys on his way to a 74 for joint 13th while Tabuena shot two birdies but had one bogey, a double bogey and an uncharacteristic triple-bogey 8 at the par-5 second hole. He limped with a four-over 76 and lay eight strokes behind Menor.