MANILA, Philippines – Richard Sinfuego charged back at the front to card a four-under 68 and grabbed a one-stroke lead over Rufino Bayron as Richard Abaring and Rico Depilo cracked under pressure in the second round of the P1-million ICTSI Pueblo de Oro Championship on Thursday.
Sinfuego rammed in three birdies from long range in the last nine holes at the Pueblo layout, turning what had been a mediocre round into a brilliant one.
Not only did it put Sinfuego in the lead at three-under 141, it also gave the soft-spoken Ilonggo a chance to finally end a long slump and erase the stigma of a final hole miscue two years ago in Del Monte.
Bayron, who won a pro tournament as an amateur three years ago, posted a 142 after a second straight 71, barely missing joining Sinfuego at the helm with a final hole bogey that marred an otherwise flawless round.
But with five players laying just two or three strokes behind on a long, demanding layout, a spirited battle for the top P200,000 purse is seen in Thursday’s final round of the 54-hole tournament organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. and sponsored by ICTSI.
Abaring, who humbled the field with an opening 67, stayed at the helm despite a 37 at the back but fell with three bogeys in the last nine holes, finishing with a 76 for a 143 and dropping to joint third with Charles Hong and Orlan Sumcad.
Hong, who steered the South team past its North counterpart in the Ryder Cup style event last June, bucked a double bogey on No. 3 and a bogey on the 11th with three birdies in the last five holes as he saved an even par 72, while Sumcad mixed four birdies with two bogeys and a double bogey to likewise shoot a 72.
Depilo, who had an impressive 68 in the first round, shot himself in the foot with a birdie-less 81 and slid all the way down to joint 32nd at 149.
Joseph Labajo rebounded from a bogey-riddled 76 with a bogey-less 68 as he wheeled back into contention with an even 144, the same output put up by Christopher delos Santos, who carded a 74.
Ferdie Aunzo made a 73 but still stayed in the title hunt at 145, four shots off the joint leaders along with former leg winners Marvin Dumandan and Mhark Fernando, who both had 73s, Cookie La’O, who limped with a 76, and James Ryan Lam and Ebarra Quiachon, who shot identical 71s.
Forty-four players made the cut at 150 with Art Arbole (75), Cassius Casas (73), Jimmy Bayron (77), Paul Minoza (75), Ricardo Mise Jr. (74), Enrico Opinion (72), Demetrio Sanchez (75), Sonny Villaber (77) and amateur Edsel Tan (77).
The other backers of the event are Empire Golf, Titleist, Footjoy, Callaway, TaylorMade, Mizuno, Srixon, Nike Golf, Custom Clubmakers and Sharp with Balls, Studio 23, Pinoygolfer.com and Inquirer Golf as media partners.