Thai Sattaya Supupramai scorched the Mount Malarayat composite courses with two eagles and an explosive run of birdies and came away with an eight-under 64 to forge a tie with Tony Lascuna in the third round of the ICTSI Classic in Lipa Cazity, Batangas on Friday.
The surviving 58-player field pounded the par-72 layout with under-par scores as the Mt. Lobo and Mount Malipunyo courses virtually lay defenseless despite the presence of the wind in a day when birdies became a norm and the leaderboard continued to be dotted with red numbers.
Forty-one shot 71 or lower and six others matched par although play remained under preferred lies rules for the third straight day in the $60,000 event serving as the ninth leg of the Asian Development Tour and the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour.
Still, the field flashed fine form with Supupramai, hoping to nail a breakthrough win on his very first try on the ADT, overcoming a five-stroke deficit with that 64 that put him in step with Lascuna at 16-under 200 after the Filipino ace struggled with his putting at the back and settled for a 69.
“I just can’t make the putts at the backnine,” rued Lascuna, who could only hit one birdie in the last nine holes after ramming three against a bogey at the front.
Despite Supupramai’s charge, the reigning ICTSI PGT Order of Merit champion remains confident of his chances in the event, sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc., for what could also be his first ADT win.
“I think I can handle him (Supupramai). He’s not that consistent but the key here is a solid backnine tomorrow (today),” said Lascuna.
Supupramai, trying to hone up his skills and talent on the ADT after a series of poor finishes on the Asian Tour marred by two missed cuts, put on a brilliant show on both nines, bucking a bogey on No. 2 with three birdies in the next four holes before holing out with eagle on the ninth.
He again dropped a shot on the 11th but like at the front, he answered with a stirring birdie-eagle-birdie feat from No. 13 then birdied the par-5 17th for the third straight day for two 32s and a 64.
Angelo Que came out of nowhere to clinch a spot in the championship flight although last week’s Abotiiz Invitational runner-up stood four shots off the pace at 204 despite matching Supupramai’s 64.
Nine shots off Lascuna midway through the event, Que knocked down four birdies against a bogey at Mount Lobo then razed the Mt. Malipunyo side with five birdies for a 33-31 card.
“It’s kind of windy today (yesterday) and that’s what I like. I am more comfortable on a windy condition. It was easier to make birdies today for some reason,” said Que.
Frankie Miñoza also turned in a 64 – a pair of 32s that shoved the back-to-back winner at ICTSI Del Monte and ICTSI Pueblo de Oro last month in joint fourth with Dutch Guido Van der Valk, who made a 70, and Englishman Ian Keenan, who shot a 65, at 11-under 205, five shots off the joint leaders.
“Just got lucky. The greens were holding and that sets up birdie chances. My shots around the green were perfect,” said Minoza, who could’ve done better if not for flubbed birdies on Nos. 11 and 18 inside six feet.
Darren Tan threatened at the front with a 33 but finished with a 37 for a 70 to tie fellow Aussie bet David Lutterus, who shot a 69, at seventh at 10-under 206.
Jessie Balasabas put in the most impressive start of six-under 30 then added another birdie on the par-3 11th to go seven-under. But the former national team mainstay still in search of a breakthrough victory missed a couple of birdie chances and dropped a stroke on the 18th and ended up with a 66.
It was, however, enough to push him to joint ninth at 207 with Korean Park Il-Hwan (68), Japan’s Yuki Usami (71) and Masaki Sakata (71), Greg Moss of the US (71) and Canadian Lindsay Renolds (67).
Anthony Fernando also turned in a fiery start of 32 only to fumble with back-to-back bogeys from No. 14, needing to birdie the 16th to shoot a 69 and join Balasabas and company at ninth place.
Amateur William Sjaichudin of Indonesia, who started the round tied with Van der Valk, four shots behind Lascuna, held his ground with an opening 35 but bogeyed the last three holes to blow a two-under card into a one-over 73. He dropped to joint 16th at 208 with Cassius Casas (69), Orlan Sumcad (68) and Jhonnel Ababa (66).