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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Go blows field with 65, leads by 8

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DAVAO—Lloyd Go didn’t just make a move on moving day at the ICTSI Palos Verdes Championship here on Thursday. He also took a decisive step towards realizing a dream victory.

A flurry of birdies in the first three holes catapulted Go to a commanding lead, setting the tone for what would be a remarkable round for the rising Cebuano star, who showcased his prowess with a stellar 65, virtually sealing the outcome of the P2 million tournament at the Rancho Palos Verdes course.

Go led Nilo Salahog, Sean Ramos and Angelo Que by eight shots.

“The course is scoreable if you find the fairways, and that’s most important thing for me here,” said Go, whose impressive 14-under 202 created a considerable gap between him and his closest pursuers heading into the final 18 holes of the second leg of this year’s Philippine Golf Tour sponsored by ICTSI.

Earlier, Salahog sizzled with a course-record matching eight-under 64, highlighted by an eagle, but not even his solid round could propel him closer to Go, who also spiked his seven-under card with an eagle and four more birdies against two bogeys.

Salahog, who tied Jay Bayron’s feat in 2006, settled for joint second at 210 with Ramos, who hit three birdies in the last seven holes to save a 70, and Que, who gained strokes on Nos. 16 and 17 to rescue a 71.

Ira Alido survived a roller-coaster round and finished with a 72 as he slipped to fifth at 211 followed by Keanu Jahns (71-212), Reymon Jaraula (72-213), Michael Bibat (73-214), and Guido van der Valk (71-215).

With a huge lead, Go maintains a cautious approach to his chances for the top P350,000 purse in the 72-hole championship organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. and supported by PGTI official apparel Kampfortis Golf, while acknowledging the presence of pressure in the final round. However, he remained committed to his game plan of consistency off the tee.

“I don’t have any specific target score, just taking it hole-by-hole. If I execute a good tee shot, I can be aggressive with my approach shots, but if not, I’ll focus on saving pars,” said Go, describing his strategy.

A highlight of his round was his eagle on the par-5 No. 8, where he split the fairway with his drive and followed up with a superb 9-iron shot from 150 yards to 20 feet off the cup, draining the putt.

Despite a missed green bogey on the next, he birdied the 10th, conceded another shot on the 11th but birdied Nos. 15 and 17 to maintain a significant lead over the stellar field.

After distancing himself from first-round co-leader Ramos and wresting a two-stroke lead over Alido and Que at the halfway mark, Go displayed not only his shotmaking abilities but also his precision with irons and exceptional putting skills.

“So far, it’s been pretty good, including my putting. Hopefully, everything goes well tomorrow (Friday),” said the former national team standout, inching closer to ending a six-year quest for a breakthrough in the professional ranks.

Two shots behind Go after 36 holes, Que and Alido had hoped to narrow Go’s lead in the pivotal round but both failed to match his explosive start. Despite Que firing a commendable second round 67 to put himself into contention, he encountered difficulties, including a double bogey on No. 5, ultimately finishing with a one-under card.

Similarly, Alido, who bolstered his challenge with an eagle-boosted 71 Wednesday, struggled with a bogey-bogey start. Although he rebounded with birdies on Nos. 3 and 11 and an eagle on the eighth, he faltered with bogeys on Nos. 12 and 14 to conclude with a 72.

From joint 15th, Salahog snapped a run of four pars with three straight birdies and an eagle from No. 5 as he went five-under in four holes. He sustained his charge with birdies on Nos. 10, 11 and 15 to put himself in title contention again.

“I have contended many times, too many to count. But still, it’s not enough in the end,” said Salahog, who tied for second at Riviera in 2020.

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