DAVAO, Philippines – Rufino Bayron came through with two strings of birdies on both nines to fire a five-under 67 and grab a one-stroke lead over Zanie Boy Gialon and two others at the start of the P1 million ICTSI Ranchos Palos Verdes Classic at the Palos Verdes layout here yesterday.
Bayron, chasing his first pro victory since ruling a pro tournament as an amateur three years ago, gunned down three straight birdies from No. 6 then strung up four straight from No. 12 to spike his 34-33 card in a day of torrid scoring at the long, rolling layout.
The former amateur hotshot, who placed third to Charles Hong and Richard Sinfuego in last week’s ICTSI Pueblo de Oro Championship, could’ve built a two-shot cushion if not for a bogey mishap on the final hole. He had two other bogeys and a birdie on the first hole on a hot, humid day.
That enabled Gialon, Carl Santos-Ocampo and Miguel Ochoa – and a slew of others – to stay within striking distance with Gialon, who nipped Order of Merit frontrunner Tony Lascuna in the playoff to score his maiden pro win in the ICTSI Negros Occidental Classic last July, closing out with two birdies in the last four holes at the front for a 68.
Santos-Ocampo, who had two near misses for a first pro crown in this year’s circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments Inc., was at it again, firing a bogey-free 34-34 round in tough condition in the afternoon, while the unheralded Ochoa also put in a pair of 34s from six birdies against two bogeys.
Three players, led by former Philippine Open champion Gerald Rosales, stood at three-under 69 while Jun Bernis shot a 70 and five more turned in one-under 71s, ensuring another wide open battle for top P200,000 purse in this 12th leg of the 15-stage ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour.
Rosales, out to snap a long title drought in the circuit sponsored by ICTSI, looked headed for an explosive round after he birdied the first three par-5s and the par-3 No. 6 to go four-under after 13 holes. But he stumbled with a bogey on No. 14 and missed a birdie putt on the last par-5 at No. 15, settling for a 69.
Jett Plete went three-under after three holes at the back, spiked by an eagle on No. 12 but could come up with a bogey and a birdie the rest of the way while Randy Garalde shot five birdies against two bogeys for 69s.
Rey Pagunsan, who led his team of Andy Ugoracion, King Rivas and Boy Tan to the pro-am crown last Tuesday, settled for a 71 in a tie with Dante Becierra, James Ryan Lam, Junro Mamaril and Elmer Saban.
Hong struggled on a late tee-off, making two bogeys for a 38 start before hitting two birdies against a bogey at the back for a 73 for a share of 23rd with eight others, including Jhonnel Ababa, who had a 37-36 round.
Other one-over par scorers were Jerson Balasabas, Christopher delos Santos, Rogelio Laput Jr., Peter Miñoza, Orlan Sumcad, Arnold Villavicencio and Paul Visinica.
Sinfuego squandered a fine start of 34 at the back with two bogeys at the front, ending up with a 72 in the company of Edgar Ababa, Ferdie Aunzo, Michael Bibat, Anthony Fernando, Mhark Fernando, Benjie Magada, Terence Macatangay and Nilo Salahog.
The other backers of the tournament 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.