CASSIUS Cassius sank a 10-foot birdie putt on No. 18 for a seven-under 65 to take the lead as Miguel Tabuena flubbed a six-footer for par and settled for second spot at 66 in the first round of the ICTSI Manila Masters on Tuesday at Eastridge Golf Club in Binangonan, Rizal.
For a while, Mhark Fernando stood all alone at the helm with a bogey-free 67 in the morning but Casas and Tabuena moved to the top in the afternoon.
Tony Lascuna bogeyed No. 14 but birdied the 17th for a 68 and joint fourth with Jay Bayron.
“I’ve been trying to put it all together and I’m glad I did it,” said Casas, referring to his game that produced two top five finishes and two top 20s against three missed cuts in the first seven legs of the Philippine Golf Tour sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc.
Tabuena said he was satisfied with his round after hitting all greens in regulation although the three-putt mishap on the closing hole cost him.
“It was a good round. But I missed a couple of short birdie putts although I made a few long ones to even it out,” said Tabuena. “But I bogeyed what for me was the easiest hole.”
It was indeed a heartbreaker of a finish for the 19-year-old Tabuena, who engaged Casas in a day-long shootout until he surged ahead with four birdies in a five-hole stretch, the last on No. 17 where Casas barely salvaged a par from seven feet.
The big guns had a virtual field day on the mountain-top course in the absence of the wind with 21 players from the starting field of 91 breaking par and six others scoring 72s.
Michael Bibat hit four birdies against a bogey, James Ryan Lam and Carl Santos-Ocampo made five bogeys to negate a two-bogey mishap, and Benjie Magada went bogey-free with three birdies for identical 69s.
Angelo Que, also chasing his first win on the local circuit this year, recovered from a poor start with three birdies in the last six holes for a two-under 70, tying Joey Huerva, Anthony Fernando, Jhonnel Ababa and ICTSI Riviera runaway winner Elmer Salvador at 10th.
Struggling a bit with just a birdie to show at the front, Que made back-to-back bogeys from No. 11 but birdied the two par-5s then added another one on No. 16 to save a pair of 35s.
Salvador hit back-to-back birdies from No. 2 but dropped two shots on the par-4 No. 7, needing to birdie Nos. 12 and 18 to get back into contention in the four-day championship organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. and backed by Nike Golf, Pacsports, Srixon, FootJoy, It’s More Fun in the Philippines, Callaway, Mizuno, Custom Clubmakers, Titleist, Sharp and KZG, with Balls Channel, Inquirer Golf and ABS-CBN Sports+Action as media partners.