CASSIUS Casas struggled on the putting greens and barely held off a charging Clyde Mondilla, firing a two-under 70 for a one-stroke lead after the second round of the P1 million Canlubang Golf Invitational on Thursday at Cangolf’s North course.
After dishing out an opening 66, Casas hit three birdies against a bogey as he flubbed at least four birdie chances inside six feet for a 34-36 round and a 136 total.
Mondilla rallied from five shots down by carding a six-under 66 for a 137 total.
Jun Bernis, who started the day in second place, was at 138 after a 70. Charles Hong also carded a 70 for a 36-hole total of 139 in the 54-hole event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. and sponsored by ICTSI.
“I couldn’t putt this time. I would’ve pulled away if not for my missed birdies in the closing holes,” rued Casas, referring to his flubbed chances on the last four holes at the front.
“But I still like my chances although I need to shoot a 68 or 69 to finally win,” added the Davaoeño shotmaker, hoping to bag his first crown since winning the Del Monte Championship in 2010.
Former national champion Mondilla is out to nail a breakthrough win after joining the tour in 2011 and is looking to make up for his run of missed cut stints this season – six – before he wound up 28th at the Riviera Classic last month.
Mondilla started on No. 10 and pressed his bid early with birdies on his first two holes, suffered a bogey on No. 13 before hitting three more birdies to get to four under at the turn.
He gunned down three more birdies against a bogey on the front nine, muffing an eight-foot birdie putt on the par-5 ninth.
Bernis gained a spot in the championship flight by rallying with three birdies on the back nine and hopes to lean on his local knowledge of the course that he calls home in the final 18 holes of the tournament offering a top prize of P200,000.
“I’ll try my best. But my familiarity doesn’t guarantee anything. Cassius is a veteran and Clyde is also hungry for a crown,” said Bernis.
Jessie Balasabas blew a solid 34 start with a 37 for a 71 and joint fifth at 141, while defending champion Zanie Boy Gialon added a 72 to his opening 69.
Rancho Palos Verdes champion Michael Bibat scored a 69 to join Mars Pucay (70) and Japanese Toru Nakajima (73) at 142, six shots off Casas.
Mhark Fernando hardly recovered from a 74 with a 72 for a 146 in the tournament also backed by Nike Golf, Srixon, Custom Clubmakers, Pacsports, Cleveland Golf, Callaway, Ping, Mizuno, Empire Golf and Sports Shop, FootJoy, Titleist, Sharp, BMW and Gergia Energy Foods.