American Blake Snyder hit birdies with pinpoint accuracy in a strong frontside rally, carding a four-under 68 and catching Filipino Jay Bayron at the helm before play was stopped due to lightning halfway through the $100,000 Aboitiz Invitationa at Wack Wack’s East course on Thursday.
Snyder and Bayron were but two of the half of the starting 125-player field who finished their rounds before the co-organizing Asian Development Tour and Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. halted play late in the afternoon due to lightning and thunderstorms.
Snyder, 24, and Bayron rattled off three birdies in varying fashions on their homeward trip at the front with the former stringing three straight from No. 3 to complete a 33-35 card and the latter birdying Nos. 2, 4 and 7 to rebound from a 38 start at the back and save a 71.
The duo shared the clubhouse lead at six-under 138.
“Funny thing about those three birdies, I hit them exactly at practically the same spot. On the 3rd and 4th, my second shots were from 120 yards and landed 6 feet off the cup. On the 5th, third shot was 120 yards too and the ball rested about 2 feet away,” said Snyder, who earlier birdied Nos. 11 and 14 to negate his bogey on the par-5 13th.
Nicolas Paez, also of the US, also assembled a running six-under card behind a three-birdie binge from No. 3 then parred the sixth before joining the late starters back to the clubhouse due to bad weather condition.
Marvin Dumandan, who shot a 69 in the first round to trail Bayron by two, had an even card after six holes, Jobim Carlos, who opened with a 70, also remained at two-under after 12 holes, while Arnold Villacencio, who also carded a 70 Wednesday, had a one-over card after six holes.
Others who completed 36 holes were American Micah Shin and Indonesian George Gandranata, who both matched par 72s, for 144, the same output put in by Aussie David Gleeson, who fired a 71.
Tony Lascuña, a pre-tournament favorite with four victories on the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour and winner of this event in 2014 at Riviera, bounced back from an opening 76 with a 70 to join the 146 scorers, who included two-time winner Elmer Salvador, who fumbled with a 74, South African Mathiam Keyser and Chris Akers of Australia, who both shot 71s, and Dodge Kemmer of the US, who also turned in an even par 72.
Frankie Miñoza, winner of the last PGT event in Negros where he edged Rio-bound Miguel Tabuena in a record five-hole playoff, also made a 72 but stood nine strokes behind the joint leaders at 147 in a tie with Manila Southwoods ADT winner Gavin Green of Malaysia, who also shot a 72.
The top 50 plus ties will advance to the final two rounds of the event, backed by Custom Clubmakers, adidas, KZG, Summit Mineral Water, Srixon, Pacsports, TaylorMade, Sharp and Champion and serving as the 18th leg of the ADT and 11th stage of the PGT.
While the tight, hazard-laden layout continued to bedevil the games of majority of the field, Snyder said liked the course and expressed confidence over his chances for the top $17,500 purse.
“I just love the tight fairways and carabao grass,” said the American, who scored his maiden ADT win in Malaysia last year. “I grew up in courses like this when I started playing in my early years. I hope to whack it out good and be a winner on Saturday.”
Bayron, who bucked tough playing condition and fired a 67 to seize a two-stroke lead in the first round Wednesday, appeared headed for an early foldup with two bogeys for a 38 at the back. But the veteran Davaoeño shotmaker, who ruled the inaugural staging of the $100,000 event in Cebu in 2011, struck back and gunned down three birdies to save a 71.
“That was a great comeback for me. I was looking for a spark and thankfully, it came just in time,” said Bayron, referring to his second straight birdie on No. 2 before adding two more on Nos. 4 and 7. “I can build on this good finish for the third round today.