RICHARD Abaring and Rico Depilo wrested control on a day when most struggled on the Pueblo de Oro course, firing a 67 and an eagle-spiked 68 respectively, to take the top two posts in the first round of the P1 million Pueblo de Oro Championship Wednesday in Cagayan de Oro.
Cookie La’O came up with a frontside 32 in one of the last flights and turned in a 69 for third place while Christopher delos Santos shot a 70 and Rufino Bayron, Charles Hong, Rey Pagunsan, Florencio Pioquinto and Orlan Sumcad had 71s.
Abaring, who had two missed cuts after 10 legs in a so-so campaign in the season, birdied Nos. 2 and 3 and bucked a bogey mishap on the fifth. He had a couple of missed opportunities in the next four holes but hit back-to-back birdies from No. 11.
Sustaining his form, he knocked down superb iron shots to set up birdie putts on Nos. 14 and 17 and find himself the surprise leader in the 54-hole tournament organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. and sponsored by ICTSI. At stake is a top prize of P200,000 in the 11th leg of the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour.
Depilo, who missed the cut six times with forgettable finishes in the other four tournaments, had to overcome a poor bogey-bogey start to put himself in early contention. He birdied Nos. 4, 7 and 9 against another bogey on the eighth to draw level par then went four-under after six holes with a birdie on the 10th, an eagle-2 on the par-4 No. 14 and another birdie on the 15th.
Bayron, tipped as one of the early contenders in the absence of the big guns who are all playing on the Selangor Masters in Malaysia, also hit an eagle on the par-5 17th but made a bogey and double bogey on Nos. 2 and 4, respectively, and needed to birdie Nos. 7 and 9 to save a 71.
Marvin Dumandan, the John Hay leg winner and the highest ranked player at No. 7, failed to get going after a 35 start at the back, fumbling with two bogeys against a birdie on his way home for a 72.
Others who wound up with even par scorers were Mhark Fernando, Benjie Magada, Gerald Rosales, Jet Mathay, Conrado Alferez and Ferdie Aunzo.