RUFINO Bayron came through with two birdie bursts on both nines to fire a five-under 67 and grab a one-stroke lead at the start of the P1 million ICTSI Rancho Palos Verdes Classic at the Palos Verdes layout Wednesday in Davao.
Bayron gunned down three straight birdies from No. 6, then strung up four in a row from No. 12 to spike his 34-33 card on a day of torrid scoring at the long, rolling layout.
The former amateur hotshot placed third to Charles Hong and Richard Sinfuego in last week’s ICTSI Pueblo de Oro Championship and is chasing a first pro victory since winning a pro tournament as an amateur three years ago.
Bayron could have built a two-shot cushion if not for a bogey mishap on the final hole. He had two other bogeys and a birdie on the first hole on a hot, humid day.
That enabled the trio of Zanie Boy Gialon, Carl Santos-Ocampo and Miguel Ochoa – and a slew of others – to stay within striking distance of Bayron.
Gialon, who nipped Order of Merit frontrunner Tony Lascuna in a playoff to score his maiden pro win in the ICTSI Negros Occidental Classic last July, closed out with two birdies in the last four holes at the front for a 68.
Santos-Ocampo, who had two near misses in this year’s circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments Inc., was at it again, firing a bogey-free 34-34 round in tough conditions in the afternoon, while the unheralded Ochoa also put in a pair of 34s from six birdies against two bogeys.
Three players, led by former Philippine Open champion Gerald Rosales, stood at three-under 69, while Jun Bernis shot a 70 and five more turned in one-under 71s, ensuring another wide open battle for the top P200,000 purse in this 12th leg of the 15-stage ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour.
Jett Plete went three-under after three holes at the back, spiked by an eagle on No. 12 but could only come up with a bogey and a birdie the rest of the way, while Randy Garalde shot five birdies against two bogeys for 69s.
Rey Pagunsan, who led his team of Andy Ugoracion, King Rivas and Boy Tan to the pro-am crown last Tuesday, settled for a 71 in a tie with Dante Becierra, James Ryan Lam, Junro Mamaril and Elmer Saban.