Tony Lascuña bettered his opening 65 with a solid seven-under 64 despite tough conditions yesterday and pulled away by six strokes over Michael Bibat halfway through the P2 million ICTSI Forest Hills Championship at the Forest Hills Golf and Country Club in Antipolo on Thursday.
Four birdies at the front spiked Lascuña’s flawless 31-33 card as the Davaoeño ace shotmaker continued to pound the par-71 layout with near-impeccable long game, solid iron play and steady putting that put him way out in front at 13-under 129.
“I was just lucky to have put it all together for two days. My driving, iron and short game and putting are clicking,” said Lascuña, who made it look easy while the rest of the field grumbled over the tough course made more daunting by the early morning rain.
Bibat took the challenger’s role with a 68 as erstwhile pursuer and chief rival Clyde Mondilla groped for form in demanding condition at the rolling, tight layout, limping with a double-bogey and a bogey against a lone birdie for a two-over 73.
Bibat stumbled with two bogeys but rammed in five birdies, the last from 40 feet out at the par-4 No. 8 that capped his pair of 34s and a 135.
“Tony has been solid with his ball striking and putting but I can’t control his shots. So I just have to focus on my game and see what happens in the last two days,” said Bibat, who stressed the need to keep the ball on the fairways to have a chance to score.
Jay Bayron fired a two-under 69 while Marvin Dumandan carded a 70 as they moved to joint third but lay nine shots off Lascuña at 138 while Orlan Sumcad and Nelson Huerva stood a shot farther back at 139 with a 67 and 72, respectively.
Bayron, a former Asian Development Tour Order of Merit winner, will join Lascuña and Bibat in the featured flight in today’s pivotal third round of the 72-hole championship, the eighth leg of the Philippine Golf Tour sponsored by ICTSI.
Mondilla, who like Lascuña is chasing a third leg win after scoring back-to-back title romps at Eastridge and Calatagan, fell to joint seventh with Mars Pucay at 140, 11 strokes off the pace.
Pucay, who bested the elite field to win here in 2010, gunned down five birdies but fumbled with three bogeys and settled for a 69 while Danny Zarate also shot a 69 to tie Charles Hong, who struggled with a 73, at 141.
Zanieboy Gialon made the biggest jump in the day, moving from a share of 44th to joint 11th with Joenard Rates and Rene Menor with a six-under 65 for an even 142. He hit seven birdies to negate a lone bogey on the par-3 No. 4 but still stood too far behind Lascuña heading to the last 36 holes of the event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments Inc. and backed by Custom Clubmakers, adidas, KZG, Summit Mineral Water, Srixon, Pacsports, TaylorMade, Sharp and Champion.
Robert Pactolerin carded a 72, Korean Lyu Hung Suk and Angie Anzures both shot 73s while Japanese Yuta Sudo survived a 79 as they made the cut at 150. Among the casualties were Albin Engino (73-151), Dante Becierra (76-151), Anthony Fernando (76-152), Cassius Casas (74-153) and Justin Quiban (81-154).