Frankie Miñoza kept the momentum of his fiery windup at Del Monte as he turned”µ? a five-under 67 to forge a share of the lead with unheralded Joenard Rates at the start of the P1 million ICTSI Pueblo de Oro Championship at the Pueblo de Oro layout in Cagayan de Oro on Wednesday.
Miñoza, who hit nine birdies to finish with a solid 63 and win last week’s ICTSI Del Monte leg crown by five, extended his birdie-spree to 10 on No. 2 and rebounded from his first bogey in the last 29 holes on No. 4 with another five-birdie binge in the last 15 holes to set his back-to-back title bid in motion with a 33-34 card.
But the two-time Philippine Open champion and former Asian Tour No. 1 found an unlikely co-leader in Rates, who turned in a bogey-free 67 although the chasing pack includes the tour’s big guns, including Tony Lascuna, Elmer Salvador, Mars Pucay and Rufino Bayron, who stood just one stroke adrift with 68s.
Jay Bayron, Benjie Magada, Arnold Villacencio and Angelo Que shot identical 69s, while Marvin Dumanda, James Ryan Lam, Carl Santos-Ocampo, Gerald Rosales and defending champion Charles Hong carded 71 each.
Languishing at No. 50 in the Order of Merit ranking with so-so finishes and three missed cut stints in the first six legs of the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour, Rates missed just one fairway and hit 16 greens, five of which he turned into birdies inside 10 feet, while saving pars in two times that he went out of regulation.
Salvador, winner of Tuesday’s pro-am tournament, and Las-cuna, the runaway champion at ICTSI Calatagan, came away with five birdies and one bogey each as they shared third place with Pucay and Rufino Bayron, who fired their own versions of 68s in late afternoon.
Pucay, who last won at ICTSI Iloilo leg last year, highlighted his four-under card with an eagle on No. 17 and two birdies in the last four holes at the front while Rufino Bayron closed out with a 33 at the front to put himself in early contention.