Bayron eyes first pro win, leads by 3

The Philippine Star

Posted at Jun 07 2014 04:01 PM | Updated as of Jun 08 2014 12:01 AM

DASMARIÑAS, CAVITE, Philippines - – Rufino Bayron took another shot at the crown, this time confident of finally erasing the stigma of final round collapses that have stymied his bid for a breakthrough win.

“I think I have a big chance now,” said Bayron after upstaging fancied Angelo Que and Scot Clarke Lutton despite slowing down with a 71 after a record-setting 10-under 62 to keep a three-shot lead over new pursuer Tomokazu Yoshinaga of Japan in the third round of the ICTSI Orchard Golf Championship here yesterday.

Bayron turned from rock-solid to wobbly overnight as he fumbled with a one-over 37 at the front on three bogeys against two birdies hours after breaking Juvic Pagunsan’s previous low of 63 set in 2011 with a bogey-free 62 late Thursday.

But the former amateur hotshot still in search of a maiden pro victory in five years regained his touch at the back after another two-hour delay due to lightning, birdying two of the first six holes but made a bogey-birdie-par finish to settle for that 71 and a 54-hole aggregate of 14-under 202.

Yoshinaga, in a flight ahead with fellow Japanese Masaru Takahashi and Cassius Casas, took the challenger’s role when all the others tumbled down one after the other in another low scoring day at Orchard’s Palmer layout, shooting a 67 for a 205.

Now 18 holes away again from victory, Bayron stressed the need to improve on his iron game after struggling with his approach shots that led to four missed green bogeys.

“But I have to improve my iron game to win,“ said Bayron, who actually won a pro tournament as an amateur in late 2008.

But he also needs to toughen up, particularly in the mental aspect of the game, after blowing a nine-shot lead in the final round following a course-record tying 65 in the third round at ICTSI Splendido Classic last March and lost by one to brother Jay Bayron.

“This time, I think I’m ready,” said Bayron.

So does Yoshinaga, the spearhead of the 11-man Japanese contingent who placed ninth in last week’s ICTSI Riviera Classic, who gunned down seven birdies to negate a two-bogey mishap and gain a crack at the top $10,500 purse heading to the final 18 holes of the event sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc.

Yoshinaga, however, hopes to improve on his putting after fumbling with three-putt bogeys on Nos. 4 and 10 that marred an otherwise impressive round that featured seven birdies, the farthest from 25 feet.

Ferdie Aunzo, also seeking an end to a long title drought, moved into contention at 10-under 206 after putting his best round in years, a seven-under 65 spiked by four straight birdies from No. 5.

“I just got the right line and allowance for my putts,” said Aunzo, who sank a 19-footer on No. 5, barely missed an eagle-putt from 25 feet on the next, tapped in for birdie on No. 7 and banged in an eight-footer on the eighth.

Aunzo, who last won on the Asean Golf Tour in 2011, sustained his form at the back and birdied Nos. 10, 14 and 18 inside six feet to earn a rare spot in the championship flight in the $60,000 event wrapping up the two-week Asian Development Tour swing here.

James Ryan Lam, one of the rising stars on the local circuit, earlier took the second spot with a sterling six-under card after 14 holes but a disastrous triple-bogey mishap on the par-4 No. 15 pulled him down, finishing with a 68 for a nine-under 207 in a tie with Jhonnel Ababa, who shot a 68.

Que, the first day joint leader who fell behind Bayron by five at midway point, also made a late charge with back-to-back birdies from No. 11 but dropped two strokes on the par-4 No. 13 and finished with a 72 and a 208 for joint sixth with Arnold Villacencio, who fired a 69, and Takahashi, who carded a 71.

“I still have a chance and I’m good with it,” said Que, confident of overhauling a seemingly huge six-shot deficit in the last 18 holes of the event backed by Nike Golf, Pacsports Phils. Inc., Srixon, Callaway, Mizuno, Empire Golf, Footjoy, Titleist, Custom Clubmakers, Sharp and KZG.