Clyde Mondilla checked an impending skid while Angelo Que sizzled at the finish as they fired identical seven-under 65s to seize a three-stroke lead over Aussie Nathan Park at the start of the ICTSI Classic at the Mt. Malarayat’s composite course in Lipa City on Wednesday.
Mondilla blew a two-eagle spiked eight-under card after 13 holes with back-to-back bogeys from No. 14 but birdied the par-5 18th of Mt. Lobo to join Que, who closed out with a birdie-eagle feat, at the helm in the early going of the P2 million tournament sponsored by ICTSI.
Park bucked a mediocre 36 start at the back with four birdies at Mt. Makulot, his 68 netting him solo third while seven others turned in identical 69s over the par-72 layout which virtually lay defenseless in the absence of the wind.
Frankie Miñoza rebounded from a bogey on No. 17 with a last-hole eagle to match Randy Garalde, Jerson Balasabas, Nelson Huerva, Benjie Magada, Joenard Rates and Elmer Salvador’s three-under cards.
Tony Lascuña, looking for a third title this year and a follow-up to his back-to-back title romp at ICTSI Forest Hills last month, slowed down after a two-birdie feat at the front, finishing with a bogey-par-birdie to shoot a 70 in a tie with Jhonnel Ababa, who also eagled the reachable 514-yard 18th.
Peter Stojanovski of Macedonia survived a roller-coaster round and finished with a 71, joining Orlan Sumcad, Arnold Villacencio, Kris Etter, Rene Menor and Rey Pagunsan at 13th while rookie pro Ira Alido also eagled No. 18 to save a 72 for joint 19th with Erwin Arcillas, Reymon Jaraula, Godofredo Sinfuego and Korean Lee Ho Youn.
While Que pressed his bid early in overcast skies with a cluster of birdies, Mondilla turned up the heat midway through his round, going eight-under in a seven-hole stretch from No. 7.
The Southwoods and Philippine Masters champion kicked off his charge with a 16-foot eagle, birdied Nos. 8 and 9 from close range, gunned down two more birdies on Nos. 11 and 12 inside six feet then rolled in another eagle putt from eight feet on the next.
“I got a good short game and hardly made errors up to No. 13,” said the Del Monte ace.
But just when he looked ready to shatter the 10-under 62 posted by Aussie Jason Dawes during the 2005 Philippine Open, Mondilla drove into the trees on the par-4 14th, played out of a stymied lie, pitched from 30 yards and two putted for bogey then hit an errant drive again on the next, overshot the green and missed a pin-length putt for par.
Earlier, Que looked a lot less rusty coming off a three-week layoff, flashing a near-impeccable game that featured four birdies at the front, including three straight from No. 6. He birdied No. 10, dropped a stroke on the next but holed out with a birdie from five feet and an eagle off a solid 8-iron second shot from 172 yards to within 15 feet.
“I hit it pretty solid and I hope I can sustain it,” said Que, the Japan PGA Tour-based ace who dominated the Anvaya Cove Invitational in Bataan last February, who also looked headed to grabbing the solo lead before Mondilla birdied the 18th and forced a tie at seven-under in the event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. and backed by Custom Clubmakers, BDO, Meralco, Sharp, KZG, PLDT, Champion, Summit Mineral Water and K&G Golf.