Danny Masrin checked an impending foldup with two late birdies as he salvaged an even par 72 in another punishing day to cling to a one-stroke lead over Guido Van der Valk of the Netherlands halfway through the $60,000 ICTSI Sherwood Hills Classic at the Sherwood Hills Golf Club in Trece Martirez, Cavite on Thursday.
Masrin, who showed up the elite field with an opening 68, threatened to pull away in the early going with a sizzling start of three straight birdies from No. 3 but faltered in the wind midway through, yielding five strokes in a six-hole stretch from No. 9 and dropping off the lead.
But he came through with superb iron shots that set up birdie putts on Nos. 15 and 18 which he made, saving a 35-37 card in steamy condition and regaining the lead from a charging Van der Valk at four-under 140.
“I was playing good in the first nine and suddenly my game disintegrated. I lost my patience. It’s quite windy in the afternoon. It really bothered me right on the first hole,” said Masrin.
Van der Valk, a regular campaigner here but still in search of a breakthrough win, also banked on a strong windup – at the front – to get into the mix, birdying four of the last five, including three straight to cap a 33-35 card and match Masrin’s opening round output for a 141.
Finland’s Janne Kaske bogeyed his last hole on the ninth late in the afternoon of another wind-blown day and missed joining the Dutch ace at second and completing a rare bogey-free round after gunning down birdies Nos. 12 and 17 and stringing eight straight pars at the front.
With Tony Lascuna continuing to grope for form and the other top local bets failing to make their move, Marvin Dumandan stepped up with a gutsy 70 to gain a share of third with Kaske, who settled for a 71, at 142 even as James Ryan Lam carded a 71 to join six other foreigners at 143.
They include Canadian Lindsay Renolds, who fired a 69, Japanese Toru Nakajima and American John Catlin, who shot identical 70s, Thai Kasidit Lepkurte, who made a 72, Jarin Todd of the US, who made a 71, and Oscar Zetterwall of Sweden.
“I didn’t expect to be in contention given this condition but I hope to stay in the hunt,” said Dumandan, seeking to end a long title spell in the circuit sponsored by ICTSI and co-organized by ADT and Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Fifty-eight players made it to the final two rounds of what loomed to be a wild last 36 holes with just three strokes separating 12 players and five more another stroke or two adrift.
“I have to play with mental toughness because the last two rounds are quite difficult. The best golfers are there and to win you have to be in your best element,” said Masrin.
Zetterwal, who shot a 71 Wednesday, actually pressed his bid early with four birdies in the first eight holes at the back but he bogeyed the next two and dropped three strokes on the par-3 second hole. He needed to birdie the sixth to card a 72.
Jay Bayron, a former ADT Order of Merit champion, also bogeyed No. 9 and slipped to joint 12th with Samuel Chien of the US, at 144 after a 73 while Michael Bibat bounced back with a gritty 70 to tie Benjie Magada, who matched par, and American Paul Harris, who hobbled with a 73, at 145.
Charles Hong rallied with a 71 to move to joint 18th at 146 along with Anthony Fernando (73), Orlan Sumcad (73), South African Mathiam Keyser (72) and England’s Christopher Cannon (72), while Clyde Mondilla fired a 70 for a 147 with five others.
Jun Bernis, impressive with a 70 in the first round, faded with a closing 41 at the front and limped with a 78, tumbling to Lascuna’s group that included Rufino Bayron (73), Nilo Salahog (74), Albin Engino (74), Robert Pactolerin (70), Jhonnel Ababa (74), American Dino Giacomazzi (75), Ric Depilo (77), Japanese Yuki Shino (75) and Dante Becierra (70).
Lascuna opened with two birdies against a double bogey in the first four holes but failed to hit any birdie the rest of the way while fumbling with three bogeys for a 75 that dropped him to joint 31st at 148, eight strokes off Masrin.
Elmer Salvador matched par 72 to make the 50-player cut at 149, which included Singapore’s Choo Tze Huang (73), Japanese Genki Okada (76) and Shunya Takeyasu (73) and amateur Yuto Katsuragawa (74), Rene Menor (74) and American Blake Snyder (72).
Barely making it to the final two rounds of the event, backed by Custom Clubmakers, adidas, KZG, Sharp, Summit, Srixon, Pacsports, TaylorMade and Champion, at 150 were Singapore’s Deng Shan Koh, joint runner-up in last week’s ICTSI Manila Southwoods, who had a 71, Aussie Gavin Fairfax (80), rookie pro Jobim Carlos (72), Zanieboy Gialon (74), Koreans Junmin Seok (76) and Chanwoo Kim (73), Reymon Jaraula (72), Lexus Keoninh of the US (73) and Katsunari Takahashi of Japan (71).