Sta. Rosa, Laguna—Young Korean Kim Joo Hyung came out better than a slew of local top guns in another battle of survival at The Country Club’s tough finishing holes, saving a one-under 71 and gaining a share of the lead with Clyde Mondilla at the helm halfway through the TCC Invitational here yesterday.
In another punishing day, three-time champion Angelo Que actually took charge with a one-over overall card after 15 holes but bogeyed the last three for a 75, opening round leader Jerson Balasabas double bogeyed the 18th for a 76 and Keanu Jahns fumbled with three bogeys at the back to likewise hobble with a three-over card.
Juvic Pagunsan, also aiming for a record fourth TCC title like Que, also went one-under after with a birdie on No. 15 but bogeyed the next two holes for a 73 while Aussie Tim Stewart matched Que’s horrible windup for a 76, their wobbly finishes enabling Kim and Mondilla, who salvaged a 73, to seize control at 146 heading to what looms to be a wild, wooly final 36 holes of the P5 million championship kicking off the Philippine Golf Tour’s 10th season.
Kim, who became the circuit’s youngest winner at 16 when he edged Jobim Carlos by one at Pueblo de Oro last year, thought he had figured out the Tom Weiskoph-designed layout with three birdies in the first five holes at the back to go two-under in another hot, windy day. But he bogeyed the 16th, barely saving a 71 that proved to be the best in such adverse conditions.
“I got lucky I made this score. It was windy and very hot out there,” said Kim, seeking to keep the crown won by compatriot Micah Shin in record fashion last year.
Over in San Rafael, Bulacan, Pauline del Rosario put on a blistering start before slowing down at the backside to card a six-under 66 and open a whopping six-shot lead over amateur Eagle Ace Superal at the start of the ICTSI Royal Northwoods Ladies Classic at the Royal Northwoods Golf Club, Inc. yesterday.
Del Rosario, out to end a title spell after racking up four victories to win the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour Order of Merit title in 2017, birdied the first four holes then added two more on Nos. 6 and 7 to turn in a career-best start. A bogey on the ninth broke that stirring birdie-binge but the former amateur star birdied the par-3 12th before settling for pars for a 31-35 card.
Superal matched par 72 to wrest solo second as recent Southwoods leg winner Thanuttra Boonraksasat stumbled with a 73 and Marvi Monsalve carded a 74.
But standing in Kim and Mondilla’s way is a host of local aces, led by Mondilla, who missed grabbing the lead with a worse score than Kim on the par-4 16th, a double bogey although the recent Philippine Open champion here remained confident of his chances for back-to-back feat at one of the country’s toughest courses.
“I hit some good shots but also made some bad decisions. One has to play steady here to win,” said Mondilla, who birdied two of the first five holes, hit two more birdies against three bogeys from No. 6 before yielding the lead with that late 6.
The Del Monte ace actually hit a good drive on No. 16 but dumped his 7-iron approach shot from 190 yards into the bunker and needed two blasts to put it on.
“I had a bad lie,” rued Mondilla, who bested a tough international field to clinch his biggest win thus far in a flourishing career that included the PGT Order of Merit crown in 2017.
But Kim and Mondilla stood just two shots ahead of Que, who pooled a 148 for joint third with Balasabas, while Jahns assembled a 149 and Pagunsan lurked at 150, ready to pounce on the leaders and step his drive for a victory in this event also known as the Don Pocholo Razon Memorial Cup put up by ICTSI chair Ricky Razon in 2003 to honor the memory of his father and ICTSI founder.
Despite a 76, Stewart also stayed in the hunt at 151 in a tie with Albin Engino and Macedonia’s Peter Stojanovski, who limped with a 75 and 76, respectively, while former champion Tony Lascuña wavered with a 79 and slipped to joint 10th at 152 with Dutch Guido Van der Valk and Jay Bayron, who carded 74 and 75, respectively.
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