CAVINTI, Laguna ˗ Zanieboy Gialon outduelled Clyde Mondilla with an early birdie blitz then held sway at the back to fire a 67 and seize a one-stroke lead over Joenard Rates Tuesday at the start of the ICTSI Caliraya Springs Championship here.
Only 12 players produced under-par rounds in preferred lies at the Caliraya Springs Golf Club course hosting the Philippine Golf Tour and the Ladies PGT for the first time and the 78-player starting field, including 19 in the distaff side, all reveled at the challenge that the Arnold Palmer-designed had presented in the early going of the four-day invitational PGT and the 54-hole LPGT championship.
The 2017 ICTSI Calatagan winner birdied four of the first six holes inside 12 feet then bucked a two-bogey mishap at the back, including on the par-4 17th after overshooting the green, with three birdies to upstage the more fancied Mondilla, a playoff loser to absentee Miguel Tabuena at the ICTSI Luisita Championsip in Tarlac last month.
The 32-year-old Davaoeno, whose campaign is backed by businessman Carlo Quimson and Coast Guard Admiral Roy Echeveria, used just 24 putts to highlight his 32-35 round and fuel his title drive in the P2 million championship sponsored by ICTSI.
Mondilla actually grappled with his balky putter at the front, mixing two birdies with the same number of bogeys but cranked up his game at the turn, gunning down an eagle on the par-5 No. 12 then closing out with two birdies against a bogey in the last three holes.
The former Philippine Open champion signed a 69 for solo third as the diminutive Rates took the early challenger’s role with a solid 68, spiked by three birdies in the first nine holes of the par-72 layout situated at the foot of Mt. Banahaw.
In the women’s side, Marvi Monsalve sizzled with a three-under 69 and found herself a bewildered leader.
Monsalve used a near-impeccable iron game to shoot four birdies against a bogey and come out of a windy day in command by two strokes over Chanelle Avaricio, who turned in a two-birdie, one-bogey 71 card two weeks after besting multi-titled Princess Superal in sudden death in the inaugural ICTSI Hallow Ridge Challenge in San Pedro, Laguna.
Avaricio rued a couple of missed chances on the unpredictable surface but expressed hopes of a better showing in the last two rounds of the 54-hole championship for a crack at a back-to-back title romp.
Chihiro Ikeda, a multi-titled campaigner out to break a long title drought, hit just one birdie against two bogeys but her 73 put her at third, four strokes behind Monsalve, even as Riviera-Langer leg winner Daniella Uy carded a 74 and amateur Arnie Taguines shot a 75 to stay in early contention in the third leg of an 11-stage circuit put up by ICTSI.
Reigning Order of Merit winner Harmie Constantino continued to grope for form as she hobbled with a 76, Gretchen Villacencio turned in a 78 and Kristine Fleetwod and Florence Bisera matched 79s for joint eighth with amateur Eagle Ace Superal.
Last year’s Midlands leg champion Sunshine Baraquiel also wavered with an 81 in a tie with former leg winner Sarah Ababa as they stood behind Pamela Mariano, who carded an 80.