CHARLES Hong and Albin Engino came up with bogey-free 66s to gain a share of the lead with Clyde Mondilla and Keanu Jahns in the first round of the ICTSI Luisita Championship on Wednesday in Tarlac.
Eager to do good after missing the cut at Anvaya last week, Hong ripped Luisita’s frontside with four birdies, including three straight to make the turn then added two more from close range at the back.
Engino, who tied for 27th at Anvaya, rammed in three birdies to launch his bid on the back then closed out with three more.
“The key was not to take risk with the driver. It is important to hit the fairways first because the chances to make birdies are greater and less risky,” said Hong, who won ICTSI Sherwood last year for his second career win.
Jahns also stood out with a fiery start and a strong rebound from a double-bogey mishap on No. 3, drilling three straight birdies from No. 5 for nines of 34-32.
Mondilla birdied the first three par-5s and hit three more birdies to record two 33s.
Rolando Marabe fumbled with two bogeys but also found the course to his liking, hitting seven birdies, including three straight from No. 12, to seize solo fifth.
Thirty-one players broke par, majority playing just one practice round then the pro-am tournament to familiarize themselves with the hazard-laden course which is hosting a tournament of this magnitude for the first time in 26 years.
Frankie Miñoza, winner of the 1989 President’s Cup at Luisita, shot a four-under 68 put his name among the early contenders for the top prize of P360,000 in the sixth leg of the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour, sponsored by ICTSI and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
“The course will reward you with a good score when you a hit a good shot. But it’s very important to play the course the conservative way,” said Mondilla, seeking a follow-up to his breakthrough win at Canlubang last year.
John Rey Pactolerin and Orlan Sumcad also carded a pair of 68s while Jay Bayron shot a 69, which was matched by Ferdie Aunzo, Michael Bibat and Elmer Saban.
Young Miguel Tabuena, winner at Splendido, shot a 70 and was tied with Elmer Salvador, Jhonnel Ababa, Dante Becierra, Paul Echavez, Randy Garalde, James Ryan Lam, Arnold Villacencio, Dino Villanueva and Dutch Guido Van der Valk.
Tony Lascuña, top money earner on tour the past three years, had a 71.