Angelo Que bucked a long layoff and sizzled with a bogey-free eight-under 64 in morning play then watched American James Bowen falter at the finish to gain a share of the lead in the weather-delayed first round of the Aboitiz Invitational 2017 at the Manila Southwoods on Tuesday in Carmona, Cavite.
Bowen, who tied Que with six birdies and an eagle after 13 holes, actually came out of the hour-long delay due to threats of lightning in hot form, birdying No. 14 to wrest control but fumbled with two poor chip shots on the par-5 17th, the last rolling past the cup, leading to a flubbed par-putt from seven feet.
“I felt a little nerve in the last three holes. But I think I did great today (yesterday),” said Bowen, who finished tied for 19th in last week’s PGTA Q-School at Luisita topped by Thai Pasavee Lertvilai.
That enabled Que to gain an early share of the lead in the $100,000 event serving as the kickoff leg of the eight-stage inaugural PGT Asia Tour sponsored by ICTSI as the former three-time Asian Tour winner hardly showed the effects of a long layoff on one of his favorite courses.
Que rammed in six birdies and spiked his solid 32-22 card with an eagle on No. 8 that saw him overshoot the green from 230 yards but pitch in for eagle from 10 yards.
“For some reason, I am so comfortable every time I play the Legends,” said Que, who took a long rest after dominating the Philippine Golf Tour field and winning the ICTSI Classic at Mt. Malarayat by a record 12-stroke romp last month.
After a two birdies from close range and eagle at the front, the former Philippine Open champion scorched the Legends backside with four birdies in the first five holes then slowed down with pars to storm past Miguel Tabuena before Bowen came in the late afternoon flight with his own version of eight-under card.
Bowen and Que’s 64s stood three strokes off the record 61 posted by American John Michael O’Toole in the second round of the ICTSI Manila Southwoods Championship won by Malaysian Gavin Green last year.
The bunker-laden layout proved defenseless in the absence of the wind with the elite field, made up of a slew of long-hitters, bucking its last-line of defense with solid iron games and superb putting. Forty-eight players turned in sub-par rounds with 16 more matching pars.
Tabuena, also coming off a long break, also sizzled with seven birdies in an impressive flawless stint after 15 holes. But the 2015 Order of Merit winner came up short and bogeyed the par-3 16th but recovered the stroke with another birdie on the closing hole for solo third, just a stroke off the joint leaders.