by Waylon Galvez
STA. ROSA, LAGUNA – Clyde Mondilla showed steely nerves, firing a three-under 69 to take a four-shot lead going into the final 18 holes of the 101st Solaire Philippine Open at The Country Club here.
While Mondlla had an ominous start – bogeying the first hole after missing six-foot par putt – he recovered remarkably but second round leader Thai Tawit Polthai struggled big time, bogeying four of his first seven holes.
The native of Manolo Fortich in Bukidnon birdied the second hole from six feet and gunned down another on the 7th to overtake Polthai.
Mondilla could have done better if not for a missed eagle putt on the 14th.
Then came his best shot for the day – on the 17th that saw him drain a long putt from 15 feet on 17 that moved him at one under in this $500,000 tournament.
Mondilla saved par on the 18th when his second shot off the bunker 100 yards from the pin landed just 6 feet from the hole for a one under 215 score entering the final round.
Polthai was four down after a 76 (219) but was five shots ahead over two other Thais, Namchock Tantipokhakul and Nirun Sae Ueng both at 220.
“After mag-bogey inisip ko kagad bawi lang. Then birdie sa 2, ginanahan, bumalik yung confidence. Then birdie uli sa 7,” said Mondilla, who is now in the position on winning his first Philippine Open.
“Basta ako laruin ko lang laro ko, kung para sa akin ibibigay talaga yan. Going to tomorrow’s final round, ang mindset is just play my game and enjoy. Now talagang I’m enjoying,” he added.
Mondilla’s best finish since he started playing in the Philippine Open in 2014 was seventh overall back in 2015, and to be in this position is something that he is proud of.
To protect his lead, Mondilla said he has to take the pressure with utmost care.
“Masarap ang pakiramdam that you’re leading going to the final round in this prestigious tournament. Of course there is pressure, lalo sa first nine holes talagang yun ang very crucial,” said Mondilla.