BACOLOD: Arnold Villacencio took a gamble on No. 4 and made an eagle, matching his opening four-under 66 and wresting a three-stroke lead over Michael Bibat and Tony Lascuña midway through the P1 million Negros Occidental Classic here at the Marapara layout here.
Failing to gain a birdie in the first round on Wednesday, Villacencio took the risk again yesterday, cutting the dog-leg right 345-yard par-4 No. 6 with a monster drive that sailed over the trees then buried a 60-degree wedge shot from 50 yards for eagle.
That highlighted another 32-34 card for the unflappable Villacencio, who hit three more birdies against a missed-green bogey on No. 3 and moved 36 holes away from snapping a long title drought on the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour with an eight-under 132 total at the tough par-70 course.
“I hit the trees in the first round and settled for par but I knew I can cut it, so I tried again. I just got lucky,” said the Fernando Air Base Golf Club bet, who had actually led a number of tournaments but blew them with final round fold-ups to remain winless in six years.
Bibat, meanwhile, pressed his bid for a second career victory after scoring a breakthrough win at ICTSI Rancho Palos lat year in Davao by matching Villacencio’s 66, joining the fancied Lascuña in second at 135.
The former Asian Games bronze birdied the first three holes for the second straight day then gunned down three more birdies from 16 feet against a bogey for a 31-35 card.