RUFINO Bayron made a bogey-free eight-under 60 under preferred lies for a one-stroke lead over teen star Miguel Tabuena and two others after the first round of the P2.5 million ICTSI Camp John Hay Championship at the John Hay Golf Club on Wednesday in Baguio City.
Bayron had nines of 30-30 on the up-and-down par-68 layout in fine conditions with very little wind.
Tabuena, Jhonnel Ababa and Clyde Mondilla scored 61s, while 26 others broke par.
“There was practically no wind and my game clicked, especially putting, which is key to winning here,” said Bayron in Filipino.
“The preferred lies rule also helped since it’s tough to hit the ball covered with mud. But it’s a good start with so many players turning in low scores. Bakbakan ito,” added Bayron, who lost to Frankie Minoza in a playoff in The Country Club Invitational last February and placed 24th in the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour’s kickoff leg at Sherwood last month.
Tabuena ruled that event, also a P2.5 million tournament sponsored by ICTSI, with a runaway eight-shot win over Edward Reyes.
The 18-year-old shotmaker underscored his bid to score back-to-back titles by carding a 61.
Bayron eclipsed that by hitting his last birdie on the par-5 17th.
Tabuena also made the turn at five-under 30, highlighted by three straight birdies from No. 4 but slowed down a bit on the back nine with two birdies.
While Bayron and Tabuena went on a strong start, Mondilla rallied on the back nine with a 29, spiked by three consecutive birdies from No. 15 as the former national team mainstay put himself in early contention for the top P450,000 prize and a breakthrough victory in the circuit backed by Nike Golf, Empire Golf and Sports Shop, Mizuno, Titleist, Srixon, Foot Joy, Callaway, Pacsports, Custom Clubmakers, Cleveland Golf and Sharp.
“I just hope to keep my form and solid shotmaking in the next three days,” said the soft-spoken Mondilla, No. 7 in last year’s Order of Merit who ended up joint 16th at Sherwood Hills.
Ababa, raring to redeem himself from a winless campaign last year after a three-leg romp in 2011, turned in the most explosive wind-up under overcast skies — a four-under card in the last three holes — to make it a crowded leaderboard.
Held back by a bogey on the par-3 12th, Ababa gunned down an eagle on the par-5 16th then came up with a birdie-birdie finish to tie Tabuena and Mondilla.
Carl Santos-Ocampo, who faltered in the final round and lost to Marvin Dumandan after wresting control with a record 59 last year, was at it again, hitting birdie on the first two holes and making four more to complete a bogey-free 62 for joint fifth with Dutchman Guido Van der Valk.
“There’s a lot of birdie holes and overall, it’s a virtual walk in the park,” said Santos-Ocampo.
Mars Pucay and Michael Bibat fired a pair of 63s for joint seventh while Dumandan missed joining them with an unlikely bogey on the 18th, dropping into a tie for ninth with former Philippine Open champion Gerald Rosales, Jomar Pepito, Benjie Magada, Rolando Marabe, Bobby Diocares, Tony Lascuna and Reyes at 64.
Jay Bayron, Japanese Tomokazu Yoshinaga and Randy Garalde carded 65s while Elmer Salvador, Ferdie Aunzo and James Ryan Lam shot 66s and seven others made 67s and two had even par cards.