LAUREL, Batangas – Clyde Mondilla used a near-impeccable all-around game to produce a nine-under 63 as he threatened to blow the stellar field with a huge seven-stroke lead over Tony Lascuña halfway through the ICTSI Splendido Taal Championship here yesterday.
An eagle-birdie backside start drove Mondilla past Miguel Tabuena and the former Philippine Open champion bucked a mishap on No. 12 with another birdie on the 17th to stay at the helm then pulled away by ripping the frontside of the softened Splendido Taal Golf Club layout with six birdies for a 30-33.
“It was near-perfect,” was how Mondilla described his round that also featured three straight birdies from No. 4 and two closing birdies.
Rupert Zaragosa’s 64 posted in the 2015 Splendido Classic, however, remains the course record since play in this week’s P2 million event put up by ICTSI is held under winter rules.
But the amiable Luisita-backed Del Monte ace isn’t after the marks, having posted a record of his own with a 64 in winning the ICTSI Calatagan Invitational in 2016. With a whopping 14-under 130 aggregate, the 2019 PH Open winner at The Country Club moved two rounds away from pocketing the top P360,000 purse in this third leg of this year’s Philippine Golf Tour.
But the big lead comes with the big pressure and Mondilla, who used a 2-iron off the mound and a seven-iron from 170 yards to eagle the 534-yard No. 10 from seven feet in one of the late flights, vows to deliver with a stronger performance in the last two days.
Though 36 holes remain in the Pilipinas Golf Tournament, Inc.-organized event, Lascuña’s 137 left him with too big a deficit to overcome with Tabuena slipping to joint third at 138 with Guido Van der Valk, who carded a 70, after failing to sustain a 66 start with a 72.
Forty pros made the cut at 152 with Richard Sinfuego clinching the last spot with a 72 after an 80 while all five amateurs advanced, including Perry Bucay (71-142), Ivan Monsalve (70-143) and Ryan Monsalve (73-143).
In the distaff side, Sunshine Baraquiel pulled ahead in a spirited duel for the lead that kept on changing hands until she hit a clutch birdie on No. 15 to save a second 71 and Chanelle Avaricio hobbled with closing bogeys for a 73.
That enabled Baraquiel to snatch a one-stroke lead at 142, moving 18 holes away from nailing her second career victory after scoring a breakthrough under wicked conditions at Tagaytay Highlands last November.
Baraquiel rebounded from a bogey start with birdies on Nos. 2 and 6 to wrest control as Avaricio dropped two strokes on the par-4 No. 4 and bogeyed the next.
Avaricio birdied the seventh for the second straight day and reclaimed the top spot with those string of birdies to launch her backside drive, only to stumble at the finish for a 38-35 and a 143 in a tie with amateur Mafy Singson.
Reigning Order of Merit champion Harmie Constantino likewise stayed in the hunt despite a 73, her 145 total leaving her just three strokes off Baraquiel in a final round shootout tipped to go down to the last shot or putt.
Pamela Mariano pooled a 148 after a second 74 while Florence Bisera and Ikeda remained tied at 150 after a pair of 75s in the P750,000 event put up by ICTSI. Bisera reeled back with bogeys on Nos. 16 and 17 while Ikeda stumbled with a double bogey on No. 18 .
Apple Fudolin struggled with a 77 for a 152, Gretchen Villacencio matched par 72 after an 71 for a 153 and Saray Ababa carded a 76 to tie Marvi Monsalve, who skied to a 78, at 156.