Thai Pasavee Lertvilai shook off a par-game with birdie-blitz in the last 10 holes for a three-under 69 in scorching condition, seizing a one-stroke lead over two locals as Miguel Tabuena withdrew due to injury at the start of the ICTSI Wack Wack Championship at WW East course in Mandaluyong on Wednesday.
Lertvilai, out to atone for his playoff setback to obscure Rene Menor in the ICTSI Splendido Classic last September, gunned down four birdies in an eight-hole stretch from No. 9 that negated his lone bogey on the par-4 No. 12 where Tabuena hit a root beneath the ball and winced in pain in his right wrist.
The winner of the inaugural PGT Asia kickoff leg at Southwoods decided to pull out of the fourth leg of the PGTA so as not to aggravate the injury. He had a three-over card with six holes to play.
With Tabuena out, in-form Justin Quiban and Zanieboy Gialon stepped up to provide the early local challenge with identical 70s while Tony Lascuna and Rolando Marabe Jr. stood a shot farther back at 71 and Benjie Magada, Jhonnel Ababa and Dino Villanueva matched par 72s on the tight, demanding par-72 layout.
Quiban, coming off an impressive joint fifth place finish in the Manila Masters at Southwoods last Sunday, sustained his hot form and rammed in three birdies at the front of the tight layout to wrest control. But he stumbled with a double-bogey on the tricky, dog-leg No. 12 and needed to birdied the par-5 13th to tie Gialon at second.
Gialon, seeking to snap a long title spell, also fired three birdies in the first 10 holes but missed joining Lertvilai at the helm with a bogey-birdie-par-bogey stint from No. 13. He had a 34-36.
Lertvilai failed to find his rhythm in the early going, settling for pars in the first eight holes before birdying two of the next three and rebounding with birdies on Nos. 13 and 16 from a missed-green bogey on No. 12 to grab the lead in the $100,000 championship sponsored by ICTSI and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Like Lertvilai, Tabuena, seeking to make up for his last-hole foldup at Southwoods, parred the first eight holes but dropped a stroke on the ninth and wound up with a 6 on No. 12.
“He didn’t know there was a thick root when he hit the ball inside the trees. He screamed and I advised him to stop so as not to aggravate the injury,” said Tabuena’s mom Lorna.
She added that the 23-year-old Rio Olympiad is set to compete against some of the world’s best in the $2 million Hong Kong Open next week.
Thai Wisut Artjanawat hit three birdies but made four bogeys to drop to joint ninth at 73 with Michael Bibat, Aussie Andrew Campbell, Rico Depilo, Americans Nicolas Paez and Lexus Keoninh, James Ryan Lam, Gerald Rosales, Orlan Sumcad and Japanese Hosho Takahashi.
Six players—Elmer Salvador, Roberth Pactolerin, Charles Hong, Ferdie Aunzo, Japanese Joichiro Kawada and Aussie Dane McArdle—turned in identical 74s as majority of the 99-player field struggled on the tight, hazard-laden layout.
Backers of the event are Custom Clubmakers, Meralco, Champion, Summit Mineral Water, K&G Golf Apparel, BDO, Sharp, KZG, PLDT and M.Y. Shokai Technology, Inc.