MANILA -- Unheralded Albin Engino and legend Frankie Miñoza took different routes but produced the same results at the start of the ICTSI Negros Occidental Golf Classic on Wednesday in Bacolod.
The pair both scored two-under 68s to share the early lead in the competition.
Engino, still in search of a breakthrough win in a long pro career, birdied two of the last four holes in a big frontside finish to save a 35-33. Meanwhile, Miñoza fumbled with a bogey No. 16 from the bunker in a late mishap that spoiled his explosive start.
Miñoza signed for a 32-36 card that still netted him a shared view of the top with Engino. They are one stroke ahead of Ira Alido and Korean rookie Hyun Ho Rho.
"I didn't expect to go under. I just played it shot-by-shot and hole-by-hole. But it came out okay, so I'm so happy," said Miñoza, who is coming off an eighth place finish in The Country Club Invitational last month.
"I'm just enjoying the game. Malakas ang hangin sa umpisa pa lang. Iba't-iban ang kondisyon ng greens, may mabilis, may mabagal," he added.
Engino likewise used a conservative approach to break a two-birdie, two-bogey card after 14 holes, birdying No. 6 then holing out with another feat on the ninth to join Miñoza at the helm.
"I played it safe and short throughout and made the most of my birdie chances," he explained.
Staying in contention were: Ferdie Aunzo, Jun Bernis, Reymon Jaraula, Korean Kim Min Seong, Tony Lascuña, Gerald Rosales, Nilo Salahog and Rupert Zaragosa. They all matched par 70s for joint fifths, with Jhonnel Ababa, Mars Pucay, Bonifacio Salahog and Dino Villanueva carding identical 71s.