• Scrappy Renolds clings to 1-shot lead with 68

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    Lindsay Renolds CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

    Lindsay Renolds CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

    Lindsay Renolds shook off a fumbling start with a bunch of birdies then turned in a couple of late par-saving putts to salvage a four-under 68 and keep a one-stroke lead over new pursuer Scott Barr of Australia after two rounds of the Philippine Open presented by ICTSI at the Luisita Golf and Country Club in Tarlac on Saturday.

    Renolds, who shot a flawless 66 Friday to wrest control of the weather-shortened $300,000 event, stumbled with his first bogey on No. 1 but quickly checked his skid with five birdies in the next 11 holes then parred the rest, including a pair of up-and-down feats on Nos. 15 and 16 to preserve a 34-34 card.

    That also kept the Canadian on top of the elite field with a 134 but Barr charged back from joint 11th to solo second at 135 with an eagle-spiked 66 even as Miguel Tabuena stayed in the thick of things despite falling a shot farther back at 136 after a 69 he highlighted with a closing eagle on No. 9.

    “It‘s exciting to be in this position. My game feels good, I feel good,” said Renolds after wrapping up two rounds of tough play virtually unscathed. “I’m not really worried or nervous. We will see what tomorrow (today) brings. It is just another round of golf for me.”

    Finnish Kalle Samooja also rebounded from an opening bogey mishap with seven birdies but missed joining Barr at second with a bogey on the 18th as he settled for 67 and a share of third with Tabuena, Indian Gaganjeet Bhullar, who shot a 69, and Korean Giwhan Kim, who carded a second straight 68 in day-long drizzle.

    Tabuena chipped-in from 12 feet for eagle on the last hole of a solid 5-wood second shot from 236 yards to stay in the hunt for a first Asian Tour win. The young Filipino was disappointed he did not take advantage of his birdie chances.

    “I lipped out about five times and got frustrated. It is easy to lose your temper here because there are so many birdie holes and if you miss it, you will lose ground. I have to be as patient as possible tomorrow. There will be players who will try and force things. I’ve been in this position before and I know I can come out on top this time,” said Tabuena.

    With Khalin Joshi of India (67), South African Keith Horne (68), Ireland’s Niall Turner (68), Thai Chinnarat Phadungsil (70) and young Korean ace Jeunghun Wang (70) assembling similar 137s and Simon Griffiths of England and Thai Tirawat Kaewsiribandit turning in 68 and 70, respectively, for 138s, a fierce final round shootout looms among at least 12 players slugging it out for the top $54,000 purse in this closing Asian Tour event sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc. and sanctioned by the Asian Tour and National Golf Association of the Philippines.

    Like the rest of the contenders, Barr vowed to dish out his best and go for the pin even as he hoped to keep his hot putting going.

    “Obviously this is a huge week. For me I just want to play my best and it is going well. I’ll try and be aggressive tomorrow (today),” said Barr, who turned his fortunes around on the greens after receiving a putting tip from former Asian Tour member Ahmad Bateman.

    “He helped me with some alignment issues that I was having and some simple drills. It is something akin to what I’ve done in the past. It gave me a lot of thoughts on how I used to roll it so well. Obviously when the putter starts rolling, the fairways get wider and everything gets easier,” said Barr.

    Charles Hong, who like Tabuena has won here at Luisita this year, fired a 68 but stood five strokes off Renolds at 139 in a tie with Juvic Pagunsan, who fumbled with a late bogey for a 71, former champion Mardan Mamat (71), Korean Charlie Wi (69), Janne Kaske of Finland (68) and Aussie Adam Groom (69).

    The other fancied local bets struggled in wet condition with Tony Lascuna and Elmer Salvador barely making the cut at 144 with 72 and 71, respectively, heading to the final round of the 54-hole event sponsored by the MVP Sports Foundation, Smart, PLDT, FIBR, Metro Pacific Investment Corp. (MPIC), Amon Trading, Central Azucarera de Tarlac and Ayala Land, Inc. with San Miguel Corp., Suntrust Properties and Sta. Lucia as hole sponsors.

    Among the casualties were two-time Asian Tour OOM winner Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand (70-145), Cassius Casas (74-146), Frankie Minoza (74-147), amateur Rupert Zaragosa (69-148).

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