MICHAEL Bibat and Dante Becierra came through with four-under 67s to catch opening day leader Guido Van der Valk at the top in the second round of the P1 million ICTSI Rancho Palos Verdes Classic at Rancho Palos Verdes Golf and Recreational Estates on Thursday in Davao.
The leaders were at seven under after 36 holes, one-stroke ahead of Elmer Saban in the 54-hole event.
Bibat, outgunned by Van der Valk in their opening day shootout, got back at the Dutch ace by hitting three birdies in the last six holes and came up with nines of 34-33.
Van der Valk added a 69 to his opening 66.
"My short irons clicked and also I have started to get used to the speed of the greens, that's the most important thing," said Bibat, the former Asian Games bronze medalist whose best finish in five years on the pro tour was fifth at Southwoods in 2008.
Becierra, a former Hong Kong Amateur Open champion, hit six birdies in the first 13 holes and momentarily seized solo lead at eight-under with a birdie on No. 4. But he missed the green on the next and wound up with a bogey before making par on the last four holes for nines of 32-35.
Saban also shot a 67 to grab solo fourth at 136, while Jay Bayron carded a bogey-free 69 for solo fifth at 137.
With Charles Hong and Rufino Bayron joining Elmer Salvador and Anthony Fernando at 138 after a 66 and 68, respectively, the battle for the top prize of P200,000 purse could go down to the last putt.
Van der Valk survived his game-long struggle with his putter and felt lucky to remain in the title hunt in the event sponsored by ICTSI and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
" I really played nice but failed to cash in my putts. That would have made the difference if I made some of it," he said.
Salvador birdied No. 1 then recovered from a bogey-bogey mishap from No. 3 with four birdies in the last 13 holes, including three straight from No. 6.
Fernando, a former national champion seeking a breakthrough win as a pro, carded a 70.
Frankie Miñoza had a closing bogey on No. 9 for a 68 and dropped to fifth at 139 in a tie with Cassius Casas and Edward Reyes, who both had 68s.
Amateur LJ Go, who started the round in second place and just a stroke off Van der Valk, sputtered with a 73 for a 140 aggregate in the tournament backed by Nike Golf, Empire Golf and Sports Shop, Mizuno, Titleist, Srixon, Foot Joy, Callaway, Pacsports, Custom Clubmakers, Cleveland Golf and Sharp.