Wild finish looms as young Thai grabs lead in Cavite

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Thai Itthipat Buranatanyarat used a strong start to storm past Frankie Miñoza then checked an impending skid with a birdie and clutch pars as he saved a two-under 70 to snatch a one-stroke lead over Cassius Casas and Orlan Sumcad in a topsy-turvy third round of the ICTSI Sherwood Hills Classic at Sherwood Hills Golf Club in Cavite on Friday.

The 2012 Thailand Amateur Open champion rattled off three birdies after nine holes then watched Miñoza fade with early bogeys in a flight behind to move from two-down to one-up over an equally hot-starting Sumcad midway through another windy day that bedeviled the games of majority of the halfway leaders.

That included Itthipat, who reeled back with back-to-back bogeys from No. 11 but regained a one-shot lead with a birdie on No. 13, holding on to it with a slew of pars that kept the two local bets at bay.

With a five-under 211 aggregate, the former Thailand national team mainstay, who will turn 22 next month, surged ahead of the surviving field to emerge the third leader in as many days in what has become a wide-open battle for the $10,500 purse in this ninth leg of the Asian Development Tour sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc.


Miñoza, who took the halfway lead with a 68 Thursday, recovered from a bogey-riddled 40 with two straight birdies from No. 11 but dropped three more strokes in the last seven holes to tumble down the leaderboard with a 77 for a 216, now five shots adrift.

In another flight behind Itthipat’s, Sumcad and Casas slugged it out in a virtual shootout, matching 34s at the front and leaving flightmate and first round joint leader Poosit Supupramai behind with a 38. But Casas outgunned Sumcad at the back by one with a 36 for a 70 as they shared second at 212.

Casas actually tied Itthipat in the lead with a four-foot birdie putt on No. 15 but three-putted the next to fall into a tie with Sumcad, who also shared the lead at No. 16 but missed the green on the next and made a bogey for a second straight 71.

“It will be a question of putting although the wind will also be a big factor,” said Casas, still in search of the form that netted him two victories last year. “But I’m ready and I hope to do well tomorrow (today).”

The long-hitting Sumcad also seeks to unleash a solid game and end a long search for a breakthrough victory although he must first erase the stigma of his shaky finish of two bogeys in the last eight holes yesterday with a strong start in what promises to be a fierce final day battle of nerves and putting among the three contenders.

“I was lucky to make birdies in the wind in the early going that’s why I still finished at one-under despite my bogeys on Nos. 11 and 17. I just hope to get the breaks tomorrow (today),” said the soft-spoken Sumcad, who missed the cut in last week’s ICTSI Eagle Ridge Invitational, the first of the two-week ADT swing co-organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.

American Paul Harris, the other opening round co-leader, bounced back from a second round 75 with a 72 but stood four shots behind Itthipat at 215 in a tie with Rey Pagunsan and Casey O’Toole of the US, who both shot the day’s best 69, German’s Arwed Fischer, who carded a 70, and Taiwanese Hsieh Chi-hsien, who stumbled with a 74.

Aussie Darren Tan and Thai Chanat Sakulpolphaisan turned in identical 72s to join Miñoza at ninth while three-time ADT winner Elmer Salvador finally broke par with a 70 to pool a 217 in a tie with Aussie Kevin Marques and American Josh Salah, who hobbled with similar 73s.

Anthony Fernando, tied with Itthipat after two rounds, skied to a 77 and dropped from joint second to a share of 15th at 218 with Arnold Villacencio, who matched par 72, American Yoon Sejun, who made a 73, and Rico Depilo, Singapore’s Mitchell Slorach, Japanese Masaru Takahashi and Supupramai, who all had 77s.

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