Veteran Benjie Magada and sophomore pro Justin Quiban leaned on superb backside stints to card identical four-under 68s in hot and windy condition, wresting a one-stroke lead over Tony Lascuña and Japanese Genki Okada at the start of the ICTSI Manila Masters in Binangon an, Rizal on Wednesday.
Gerald Rosales rattled off four straight birdies to launch his bid in a late start at the Eastridge Golf Club but the former Philippine Open champion wavered at the back with six bogeys for a 74, enabling Magada and Quiban to remain on top in the early going of the P3 million event sponsored by ICTSI.
Magada, who missed the cut in the Philippine Golf Tour’s kickoff leg at Anvaya, checked a roller-coaster stint with three birdies in the last five holes for a 35-33 card while Quiban, who finished at No. 25 in the Order of Merit ranking in his rookie year, sizzled with four birdies at the back where he teed off then negated a bogey mishap on No. 1 with a birdie on the fourth for a 36-32.
“My game clicked despite tough condition with the wind blowing from all over,” said Magada, who birdied the last two holes inside 10 feet to set in motion his bid to end a long title spell in the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Lascuña missed grabbing the lead or joining Magada and Quiban on top with a faltering finish at the front but stayed within striking distance with a 69 for joint third with the 19-year-old Okada,
The reigning OOM champion, who tied for eighth at Anvaya which Angelo Que dominated by nine shots, actually bucked a bout with arthritis as he upstaged Que in their featured duel, overcoming a bogey on No. 15 with six birdies in the next nine holes to take charge. But the Davaoeño ace holed out with back-to-back bogeys on missed green mishaps and dropped out of the lead.
“The wind blew hard and the greens are really tough to read,” said Lascuña, also out to post his first victory on the mountaintop course. “I’ve played and won in so many courses but here, so I’m really motivated this week.”
Que, in contrast, put on a strong start of three birdies at the back to share the early with Frankie Miñoza and Quiban. But the former three-time Asian Tour winner fumbled with two bogeys in a birdie-less frontside stint and slipped to 71 with six others.
Okada, a first-time qualifier who skipped the Anvaya leg, made quite an impression with a 69 he spiked with birdies on Nos. 5, 8, 10 and 13. He also missed sharing the lead with a bogey on the par-3 16th.
American Nicolas Paez seized solo fifth with a 70 while Japanese Joichiro Kawada, Korean Hong Soon Hyup, Charles Hong, Jet Mathay, Rene Menor and Nilo Salahog shot 71s to join Que at seventh.
Jay Bayron and Cassius Casas, two of the local bets tipped to contend for the top P550,000 purse in the 72-hole championship organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. and backed by BDO, KZG, Custom Clubmakers, Meralco, Sharp, Champion, Summit Mineral Water and PLDT, matched par 72s for joint 13th with Rico Depilo and Francis Morilla, Dutch Guido Van der Valk and Americans Josh Salah and Micah Shin.
Miñoza also lost steam at the front with four bogeys in the last six holes and hobbled with a 73 in a tie with Jhonnel Ababa, Rufino Bayron, Mhark Fernando, American Lexus Keoninh and Jobim Carlos while defending champion Clyde Mondilla opened with a birdie on No. 10 but groped for form the rest of the way, finishing with a four-over 76 for joint 55th and in danger of missing the top 40-plus ties cut.