Pasavee Lertvilai put on a blazing windup to fire a 69 then pounced on John Michael O’Toole’s wet triple-bogey on No. 16 to grab a two-stroke lead in the third round of the PGT Asia Tour (PGTA) Qualifying School at the softened Luisita Golf and Country Club course in Tarlac on Friday.
Lertvilai actually stumbled with a one-over card at the front but found his range and touch at the back, stringing three straight birdies from No. 12 then gunning down a third straight birdie on the par-5 16th which O’Toole triple-bogeyed.
That huge four-shot swing thrust the Thai ace to the lead at 10-under 206, bolstering his bid for low medal honors while virtually securing a card in the PGT Asia Tour firing off with the Aboitiz Invitational Tuesday at Manila Southwoods.
O’Toole, who took a five-stroke lead with a bogey-free 63 Thursday, struggled after birdying No. 3 as he dropped strokes on Nos. 8 and 11 then holed out with an 8 on No. 16 for a 76. He slipped to second at 208 but also assured himself of a spot in the inaugural regional circuit put up by ICTSI and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. featuring seven legs offering $100,000 purse each with the eighth stop lined up as a $300,000 event.
Keanu Jahns and Anthony Fernando likewise closed in on the coveted PGTA slots with the former carding a 71 to move to third at 210 and the latter shooting a 69 to join first round co-leader Seung Jae Maeng of the US, who fumbled with a 74, at 211.
Swede Fredrik From, who matched Maeng’s 68 in the opening round of the 72-hole championship which drew 112 qualifiers from 17 countries, also wavered with a 73 and slid to sixth at 212 while Korean Hwan Joo You and Indonesian Joshua Wirawan pooled identical 213s after a 67 and 70, respectively.
Thai Wisut Artjanawat, a multiple winner in other regional circuits, also zeroed in on a PGT Asia Tour slot with a 69 for a 214 for joint ninth with Aussie David Gleeson (69), American Micah Shin (73) and local bet Rey Pagunsan (73).
The 80 survivors after 36 holes slug it out in today’s final round with only the top 60 plus ties will gain cards in the newest regional tour backed by Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Srixon, Callaway, Empire, NikeGolf, TaylorMade, Custom Clubmakers, Sharp, Omnisource Int’l., Silicon Computer and Telecoms, Inc.
Jobim Carlos shot a second 70 and moved to a share of 13th with Rudy Cabajar Jr. (69), Canadian Lee Sang Gyun (73), Robert Pactolerin (70) and Indonesian Fajar Win Nuryanto (72) at 215.
The top 60 plus ties will join the top 40 players in the current PGT Order of Merit ranking, headed by Tony Lascuña, Clyde Mondilla, Zanieboy Gialon, Jhonnel Ababa and Miguel Tabuena, in the $100,000 Aboitiz Invitational set Aug. 15-18.
Central Azucarera de Tarlac Open will host the second PGTA leg at Luisita on Sept. 6-9 followed by the ICTSI Riviera Championship (Sept. 13-16), the ICTSI Wack Wack Challenge (Nov. 15-18) and the Splendido Taal (Nov. 29-Dec. 2). Still to be determined are the venues for the seventh leg set Dec. 6-9 and the eighth leg scheduled early next year.
The PGTA is geared towards offering golfers from the Philippines, Asia and other parts of the world another platform on which to play and at the same time to complement each country’s national golf tour and the existing regional circuits.