BACOLOD, Philippines – John Kier Abdon of Orchard had a dozen birdie opportunities yesterday but could only hit one at the start of the Philippine Airlines Interclub men’s golf championship.
Still, the young veteran of the 2013 SEA Games in Myanmar couldn’t complain because his one-over-par 71 at the rolling Binitin course proved to be the day’s highlight.
Under the PAL scoring system, which awards a point for bogey, two for par and so on, Abdon’s effort was good for 35 points, one of only two for the day.
It gave Orchard, this year’s darkhorse, a 129 total and a four-point lead over Del Monte. Cebu Country Club, the champion over the last two years, is in third at 115.
Abdon was both good and lucky. On at least two occasions, he reached the green in regulation, from tight situations, and managed pars on both.
The 22-year-old graduate of Southville said he could have done much better if only he sank his putts.
“I could have scored four-under or five-under. Masama ang (poor) putting,” said Abdon, who bogeyed a couple of par-3s (Nos. 3 and 18) but birdied No. 5, a par-five hole.
Abdon drew the needed support from teammates Rodel Mangulabnan and Raymund Sangil who both had 33 points, and Niko Santiano’s 28. Tonito Payumo’s 24 did not count.
Orchard’s non-playing captain, Francis Montallana, didn’t sound surprised with the way they played, but was more surprised with how the other teams fared.
He said he fielded a strong lineup at Binitin because they knew it’s the course where they could get the numbers.
“We wanted to field a strong team today because we felt Binitin is where we can score big,” he said, adding that Del Monte failed to squeeze the best out of its players.
“And Cebu Country Club may be reserving their best players for Marapara,” he added.
Action shifts to the tougher Marapara layout today, then back to Binitin for the third round, and again at Marapara for the final round.
Jelbert Gamolo of Del Monte was the only player to score 35 points on opening day. Magno Arancon backed him up with a 33 but could only draw 57 points combined from Julius Bautista and Francis Morilla for 125.
Cebu Country Club stood third with 115 points behind Gen Nagai’s 34 points, Harvey Sytiongsa’s 29, Kiyofumi Takahashi’s 26. An output matched by Carl Almario.
But Cebu CC general manager Jeric Hechanova is not pushing the panic button.
“We’re not worried because we have a strong team for the second round at Marapara,” he said. “But we need to gain ground on them starting today.”
Alabang is 16 points behind with 13-year-old Christopher Popp firing 30 points and Andres Saldana shooting 29.
In the Founder’s division, Valley Golf got 31 from Eddie Boy Lopez for a total of 114 and a shaky four-point lead over Apo Golf, bannered by Chicoy Saavedra with 29 points.
In the Friendship division, Victorias Golf dictated the pace with 94 points followed by UP Tee Jots with 82. Raymond Gomez led Victorias with 30 points while Ogie Caja had 24 for UP.
First round scores:
Valley Golf 114, Apo Golf 110, Manila Southwoods 106, Zamboanga 106, Rancho Palos Verdes 103, Tagaytay High Lands 103, Villamor Golf 102,Riviera Golf 101, Negros Occidental Golf 100, Sta Elena 98, Forest Hills 97, Iligan 97, Manila Golf 94, Mactan Island 93, Pueblo De Oro 88, Alta Vista 87, Wack Wack 83, Maharlika 63, Yokohama Eagles 33
Lumbia 109, Eagle Ridge 101, Iloilo Golf 100, Club Filipino 99, Davao City Golf 97, Bacolod Golf 97, So Cal Redhawk 93, Bay Area Golf 83, Philippine Navy 82, Sherwood Hills – Suntrust 82, Guinhalaran 79, Sarangani Golf 79, Lanang Golf 77, Fil Am Fair Field 71, PGA of BC 69, Baguio Country Club 68, Pittsburg Fil Am 66, Leyte Golf 63, South Bay 58, Van City Golf 50, Greater Vancouver 32
Victorias Golf 94, UP Tee Jots 82, South Cotabato 80, Filam Hawaii 79, Mabuhay Golf Of San Francisco 77, Cotabato Golf 77, Austral-Asian Golf 70, Pearl Kai Hawaii 66, Figme Dubai 61, FGA Riyadh 54, SF Crystal Springs 52, Seattle Golf 47
Orchard 129, Del Monte 125, Cebu Country Club 115, Alabang Country Club 109, Anvaya Cove 70, Camp John Hay 66, Figme UAE 61, Greenhills West 60,Moffet Field Golf 55, MSU Golf 54, Fil Oz Sydney 47, Filipino Golfers Kuwait 43