Justin Quiban and Moulay Rhounimi rode on a birdie-binge at the back to card a two-under 70 then watched a couple of rivals falter at the finish to seize the solo lead at the start of the ICTSI National Pro-am Open at the Mt. Malarayat Golf and Country Club in Lipa, Batangas on Tuesday.
Benjie Magada and Carlo Quimson went two-under after 14 holes but bogeyed Nos. 15 and 16 while the Tonton Asistio-Jude Eustaquio pair bogeyed Nos. 8 and 9 on its way home, leaving Quiban and Rhounimi on top of the 117-team heap of the P2 million tournament using the foursomes (alternate shot) format.
In contrast, Richard Abaring and JC Alba birdied the last two holes at Mt. Lubo to grab solo second at 71 while the Magada-Quimzon, Asistio-Eustaquio, Reymon Jaraula-Noel Langamin, and Paul Echavez- Hidenobu Hirooka tandems slipped to joint third with even 72s.
Quiban and Rhounini bucked a 37 start at Mt. Lubo with birdies on Nos. 11, 13 and 14 at Mt. Malipunyo and though they bogeyed the par-3 15th, the duo recovered the stroke with a birdie on the par-5 17th to set the pace in the 54-hole championship sponsored by ICTSI offering P360,000 to the pro champion and trophy and prizes to the amateur.
A host of teams actually crowded the Quiban-Rhounimi pair for the lead in ideal condition majority of the way but wavered coming home with the Asistio-Eustaquio duo dropping off the joint lead with closing bogeys.
Magada and Quimzon looked headed for an explosive finish after birdying Nos. 10 and 12 but stumbled with those two bogeys before closing out with a birdie-bogey stint.
Dante Becierra and Elee Becierra turned in a 73 for joint seventh with Raymund Gonzales and Iñigo Raymundo while Jelbert Gamolo and Jolo Magcalayo hobbled with a 74 for a share of ninth with the James Ryan Lam-Paolo Olives, Leonardo Estrera-BJ Cadayong, Mhark Fernando-Nico Sevilla, and Ramil Bisera-J. Quibol pairs.
Clyde Mondilla, the newly crowned Philippine Golf Tour Order of Merit winner who topped the last two PGT and PGT Asia legs, struggled with his young partner in Dongbin Seo, limping with a 77 for joint 29th with 10 other pairs.
Pauline del Rosario and Annyka Cayabyab fought back from a 41 start with back-to-back birdies from No. 13 but the duo still stood five strokes behind the leaders with a 75 in a tie with Carito Villaroman-Carlo Villaroman, Elmer Saban-Paolo Wong, J. Suarez-J. Reyes, Nilo Salahog-J. Brage, and R. Candinato-CJ Remata pairs.
After 36 holes, the top 40 teams from a starting field of 117 will advance to the final round of the event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. and backed by Custom Clubmakers, Meralco, Champion, Summit Mineral Water, K&G Golf Apparel, BDO, Sharp, KZG, PLDT and M.Y. Shokai Technology, Inc.