Rookie pro Justin Quiban and veteran Tony Lascuña turned in a pair of bogey-free rounds in scorching heat in opposite nines to surge on top as erstwhile leader Erwin Arcillas skied to a 79 and fancied Miguel Tabuena withdrew due to a bad back halfway through the ICTSI Luisita Championship in Tarlac on Thursday.
Quiban, a former Southwoods mainstay who marked his first foray in pro golf with a 71 Wednesday, flashed awesome form off the tee and came through with superb iron shots and putting to gun down seven birdies, including four coming home at the front, for a course record matching 65 that shoved him to the lead at eight-under 136.
Lascuna, the former three-time Order of Merit winner, matched that 36-hole output although he fell one birdie short of equaling Quiban’s sterling round with a 66 he spiked with four birdies at the back as they wrested a three-stroke lead over Japanese Toru Nakajima.
“It was indeed a good round. I putted well and my irons were simply good,” said Quiban, 20, who capped his brilliant round with scrambling pars on Nos. 1 and 10 and matched the 65 posted by the now retired Danny delos Santos in 1988 with a second straight birdie on the par-5 ninth.
Lascuña, a multi-titled Davaoeno seeking his first victory at the former home of the President’s Cup, bucked a shaky start with birdies on Nos. 3 and 8 then added four more at the back to be in a familiar place.
“I actually struggled with my irons in the early going and hit the bunkers. But I saved pars on both and regained my bearing after birdying No. 3 from eight feet,” said Lascuna, who also birdied Nos. 12, 13, 15 and 18 inside seven feet. “This is my best round at Luisita and I hope to finally win here.”
After startling the stellar field with a flawless 66 in the opener of the P3.5 million championship sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc., Arcillas made a not-so surprising seven-over card and tumbled to joint 25th at 145.
“I couldn’t putt and missed many birdie chances,” rued Arcillas, who after a bogey-free start made five bogeys at the front in the second round and had three more at the back against a lone birdie.
But what shocked many was Tabuena’s withdrawal after the reigning OOM champion and winner of the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour’s kickoff leg at Anvaya last month, who opened with a bogey-free 70 Wednesday, complained of back pains after a par-par-birdie start at the back.
“I’m sad this had to happen. It really pains me so I decided to quit so as not to aggravate the injury,” said Tabuena. “I have to rest and heal my back completely since I will be playing a lot of tournaments abroad.”
Tabuena’s sudden pullout only made the chase for the top P650,000 purse wide open with Nakajima rallying with a 68 to move to solo third at 139 and Clyde Mondilla and Albin Engino firing identical 69s to join Angelo Que, who carded a 71, at 140, four strokes adrift.
Nakajima, who edged Jay Bayron in a playoff to win the ICTSI Wack Wack Championship in 2013, charged home with three birdies in the last six holes at the front to put himself in title contention in the event backed by Custom Clubmakers, adidas, KZG, Summit Mineral Water, Pacsports, TaylorMade, Sharp and Champion.
Que, the former three-time Asian Tour winner who had looked forward to a duel with fellow Philippine Open champion Tabuena, now will have to contend with Mondilla and Engino even as Rufino Bayron shot a 71 for solo seventh at 141.
Orlan Sumcad and Rico Depilo both put in second straight 71s for joint eighth at 142 while Canadian Rick Gibson rebounded from an opening 75 with a four-under 68, highlighted by three straight birdies from No. 14, for a 143 for a share of 10th with Frankie Minoza, who made a 71,
Dante Becierra and Rolando Marabe Jr., who opened with 77s, fought back with a pair of 70s to salvage spots in the 40-plus ties field, which made the cut at 147, including American Sam Ayotte (72), Korean Park Min Ung (74), Joenard Rates (75) and Aussie Kevin Marques (76).
Among those who missed the last 36 holes of the event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. were former leg winners Marvin Dumandan (71-148), Mars Pucay (74-148) and Mhark Fernando (75-148), fancied rookie amateur Jobim Carlos (71-148), Robert Pactolerin (74-150) and Arnold Villacencio (75-150).