Carl Santos-Ocampo birdied No. 16 for the second straight time to fire a second straight 68 and catch red-hot Tony Lascuna at the helm, two shots ahead of a charging Michael Bibat halfway through the ICTSI Orchard Golf Championship at the Palmer Course in Dasmariñas, Cavite on Thursday.
Santos-Ocampo made a late charge of three birdies in the last eight holes to wrap up another 35-33 card in sweltering heat then immediately left the clubhouse after securing a stint with Lascuna and Bibat in the featured flight in today’s third round action in the P2.5 million event serving as the fourth leg of the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour.
While Santos-Ocampo leaned on a strong finish to remain on top, Lascuna used a strong start of 31 in one of the early flights to shoot a six-under 66 and gain a share of the lead at eight-under 136, setting in motion his bid for a second straight championship after romping off with a four-shot win at ICTSI Calatagan two weeks ago.
“I’ve been hitting good drives lately. In this course, a good drive will reward a player with a birdie chance,” said Lascuna, now back in shape after being slowed down by a back injury early in the season.
The reigning ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour Order of Merit champion highlighted his fiery start with three straight birdies from No. 7. Although he stumbled with a bogey on the 10th, the ace Davaoeño shotmaker birdied two of the last six holes for that 66.
Santos-Ocampo rolled in a long birdie on No. 2 and made a tap-in on the fourth to resume his bid but fell back with a flubbed par-saving putt from eight feet on No. 5. He, however, bounced back with back-to-back birdies from No. 11 from 15 feet then hit another from nine feet on the 16th for that 68.
He will be as much tested as Lascuna and Bibat as the troika slug it out in the featured flight with a slew of others just a stroke or two behind.
Bibat blew an impressive seven-under card and a crack at the lead with a faltering finish but checked his skid in time with a second straight birdie on the par-5 18th, saving a five-under 67 and a 138.