Clyde Mondilla battled through early windy play and saved a 71 then watched his rivals flounder in windier condition in the afternoon to seize a one-stroke lead over Zanieboy Gialon and two other local aces midway through the $60,000 ICTSI Orchard Golf Championship at the Orchard’s Player course in Dasmarinas, Cavite on Thursday.
Charging home with an eagle-aided 68 in one of the late flights Wednesday to force a four-way tie for the lead with Frankie Miñoza, Ira Alido and American John Catlin, Mondilla rebounded from two early bogeys at the back with four birdies inside eight feet against one more bogey on No. 5 for a 35-36 card that proved enough to shove him on top at five-under 139.
“This time I survived,” said Mondilla, who missed the cut at the Solaire Philippine Open and at the ICTSI Manila Masters this year. “Hopefully, I’ll keep my game going and possibly play better the last two rounds.”
Minoza, Alido and Catlin failed to match Mondilla’s output with over-par rounds in exacting condition with the wind blowing from all directions, sending the scores soaring. But the diminutive Gialon bucked the odds and tough pin placements and put in a steady second 70 and loomed large at 140 heading to the final 36 holes of the event sponsored by ICTSI and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Elmer Salvador and Jay Bayron, two veterans so familiar with this kind of condition, also moved into contention with late charge with the former, who reigned at the windy Splendido Classic last year, birdying three of the last nine holes at the front to tie Gialon at second with another 70.
Bayron, back-to-back winner in Aboitiz Invitational at Wack Wack and at the wind-swept Riviera Classic last year, also came through with three birdies in the last 10 holes to fire a 69 and force a three-way tie at second.
American William Cannon bogeyed the par-5 18th and settled for a 72 for solo fifth 142 while Miñoza, who impressed the field with his opening 68, wavered with five bogeys in a seven-hole stretch from No. 10 but holed out with an eagle to save a 75 for a 143 in a tie with Catlin, Thai Gunn Charoenkul and Joenard Rates.
“I continue to struggle with my putting but at least I made it to the final 36 holes,” said Miñoza, who beat Miguel Tabuena in a five-hole playoff in Bacolod last year.
Catlin never recovered from a three-bogey start in four holes at the back and ended up with a 75, Charoenkul bounced back with a 68, while Rates matched par 72.
Tony Lascuña, installed as the top bet here after Luisita Championship winner Tabuena opted to take a rest, rallied with two birdies at the front but could only card a 74 marred by a triple-bogey seven on No. 17. He fell five shots off Mondilla at 144 in the company of Jhonnel Ababa, who rebounded with a 70, Thai Kasidit Lepkurte, who fired a 71, Brett Munson of the US, who fought back with a 70, Orlan Sumcad, who scored a second 72, and Dutch Guido Van der Valk, who fumbled with a 73.
While Miñoza stayed within striking distance despite a three-over card, rookie Alido faded with three triple bogeys and five bogeys with only a birdie to show in a 41-44 round for an 85 and a 153 and missed the cut at 150.
“It was a terrible round. I played really and I couldn’t do anything good out there,” rued the 16-year-old Alido.
Fifty players advanced to the final 36 holes of the event sponsored by ICTSI and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. with Thai Wisut Artjanawat (74), Michael Bibat (75), Rico Depilo (75), Paul Harris of the US (81), Japanese Joichiro Kawada (78), Mars Pucay (75), Poosit Supupramai of Thailand (75), Thai Annop Tangkamolprasert (74) and Dino Villanueva (75) barely making it through.
But a host of aces failed to advance in the event backed by BDO, KZG, Custom Clubmakers, Meralco, Sharp, Champion, Summit Mineral Water and PLDT, including Jobim Carlos (77-156), Cassius Casas (77-158), Solaire Philippine Open champion Steve Lewton of England (83-160) and Luisita Championship third placer Keanu Jahns while South African Mathiam Keyser, who lost to Tabuena in a playoff at Luisita last Sunday, withdrew after opening with an 82.