Frankie Miñoza showed flashes of his old brilliance, fighting back from a poor start with an eagle spiked four-under 68, seizing a two-stroke lead over erstwhile joint leader Poosit Supupramai and six others halfway through the $60,000 ICTSI Sherwood Hills Classic at Sherwood Hills Golf Club in Cavite yesterday.
Two birdies and an eagle at the back capped a big bounce-back by the veteran shotmaker, who put himself in early contention with an opening 71 but reeled back with a double-bogey, bogey start in another punishing day at the wind-raked layout.
But Minoza, seeking to snap a two-year title spell, rebounded with four birdies in a five-hole stretch from No. 4 and bucked a bogey mishap on No. 9 with birdies on Nos. 11 and 14 before canning in a curling 25-footer off a solid drive in the wind and a superb 9-iron second shot from 180 yards on the par-5 15th.
He closed out with three straight pars with the lead safely tucked under his belt at five-under 139 as Supupramai fumbled with a 73 after a 68 and six others settling for three-under 141 aggregates, including another Thai Itthipat Buranatanyarat, Taiwanese Hsieh Chi-hsien, Singapore’s Mitchell Slorach, Japanese Masaru Takahashi and local bets Anthony Fernando and Orlan Sumcad.
Buranatanyarat also eagled No. 15 and hit four birdies but stumbled with three bogeys to card a 69, Hsieh, the current Asian Development Tour Order of Merit leader, also gunned down an eagle on the 15th but could only shoot a 71, Slorach missed grabbing solo second with a bogey on the ninth for a 71, and Takahashi settled for a three-birdie, three-bogey stint for a 72.
Fernando, the former national champion still in search of his breakthrough pro win, birdied two of the last three holes at the front for a 69 while the long-hitting Sumcad birdied the 18th for the second straight day to stay in the hunt for the top $10,500 purse in the 72-hole championship sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc.
Cassius Casas, winner of two events last year, and unheralded Rico Depilo shot a pair of 71s for the second straight day to tie American Greg Moss, who fired a 70, at ninth while first round co-leader Paul Harris of the US birdied two of the first seven holes but made six bogeys against a lone birdie at the back for a three-over 75 and tumbled to joint 12th at 143 with German Torben Baumann, who rallied with a 69.
Charles Hong, last year’s winner of this event now co-organized by ADT and Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc., also recovered with a 70 after a 74 to join seven others at 144, including Jessie Balasabas (70), Benjie Magada (71), Jun Rates (70), Aussies Kevin Marques (71) and Darren Tan (73) and Thai Chanat Sakulpolphaisan (72).
Missing the cut at 148 were last year’s ICTSI Royal Northwoods leg champion Zanie Boy Gialon (75-149), ICTSI Orchard Championship titlist Rufino Bayron (76-150), ICTSI Tournament Players Championship winner Mars Pucay (75-151), this year’s ADT Langkawi Championship victor Wilson Choo of Malaysia (73-152).