Angelo Que cashed in on a shift in tee-time and put on a dazzling, bogey-free six-under 65 while young Miguel Tabuena proved his worth and fired a 68 in windy afternoon as they took charge halfway though $300,000 Solaire Open at The Country Club in Canlubang on Friday.
As erstwhile joint leaders Sam Brazel of Australia and Filipino James Ryan Lam reeled back with three-over 75s and tumbled down the leaderboard, Que and Tabuena found themselves on top of the heap at seven-under 135, one ahead of SSP Chowrasia of India, who shot a second 68 for a 136, while South African Bryce Easton also turned in a 68 for joint fourth with Aussie Matthew Grifftin, who had a 69, for 137s.
Another local bet Zanie Boy Gialon and Canadian Richard Lee carded identical 70s for 138s while Spain’s Carlos PIgem (70), England’s Simon Griffiths (69), Aussie Dimitrios Papadatos (69) and American David Lipsky (68) stood at 139 to stay four-shots adrift heading to the final 36 holes of the event sponsored by Solaire Resort and Casino and backed by DMCI Homes, BDO, PLDT and Meralco.
After an impressive 66, Brazel stumbled with a 75 marred by a triple-bogey 8 on No. 2 and three bogeys against two birdies for a 141 while Lam hobbled with a 78, including a double bogey and five bogeys against a birdie, for a 144.
Que, a three-time Asian Tour winner who settled for a one-under 70 in tough condition late on Thursday, made the most of his early morning start yesterday and gunned down three birdies in each nine and preserved an unblemished round in another tough day at TCC.
“I’ve been working hard with my coach [Bong Lopez] and we really want to win this year. Working and hanging out with him gives me a lot of confidence. It is a big advantage when you play on home soil. I think this is the biggest chance for me to win,” said Que, out to break a four-year cycle in winning an Asian Tour crown.
The bubbly Filipino first won in 2004 in Vietnam then clinched his second AT title in 2008 in the Philippine Open then topped the Selangor Masters in 2012.
But while Que rallied to put his bid for a fourth Asian Tour title in motion, Tabuena sustained a fine start of 67 with a gutsy 68 spiked by two birdies at the tough backside for a 34-34 card.
Inspired by solid four-under card on Thursday, the 18-year-old Tabuena birdied No. 2 and rebounded from back-to-back bogeys on the next with four birdies in the next 10 holes then parred the rest to find himself a bewildered co-leader in a tournament of this magnitude.
Other local bets who advanced were Carl Santos-Ocampo (71-140), Elmer Salvador (69-141), Clyde Mondilla (70-141), Jhonnel Ababa (71-143), Frankie Minoza (70-143) Jessie Balasabas (75-143) and Tony Lascuna (73-143).
But a slew of fancied bets missed the cut pegged at 145 in this second leg of the Asian Tour, including inaugural Solaire Open champion Lin Wen-tang, who blew a decent 70 Thursday with a 78 for a 148.
Others who failed to advance were Singapore top player Mardan Mamat (72-146), Thai ace Chapchai Nirat (74-146), former Philippine Open winner Berry Henson (74-146), Scot Simon Yates (76-147), Myanmar’s Zaw Moe (75-148), Malaysian Iain Steel (74-148), Thai Boonchu Ruangkit (73-150) and top local bets Cassius Casas, who won The Country Club Invitational last month, (74-148) and veteran Asian Tour campaignter Mars Pucay (77-150)
Que stayed out of trouble in the windy conditions and needed to make only 25 putts for a seven-under-par 135 total on a course where he has won three local titles.
“I made more putts today and the highlight was returning without a single bogey. I haven’t played a bogey-free round in a while. I like this course but I haven’t been playing well here in the last couple of years so it is a pretty good feeling to shoot a 65,” said Que.
Chowrasia, winner of the 2008 Indian Masters and 2011 Avantha Masters, also charged into contention after making some changes in his putting stance.
“I’m glad because my putting was good. I really struggled with my putting in the last few months. I made a small change during my stance. Now my hand is positioned slightly in front instead of behind,” said Chowrasia.