CLYDE Mondilla blazed home with birdie-par-eagle for a four-under 68 to take a share of the lead with three others in the first round of the US$60,000 ICTSI Orchard Golf Championship at the Orchard’s Player course on Wednesday in Dasmarinas, Cavite.
It was a big start for Mondilla, who came into the event trying to fight off an early season struggle that saw him miss the cut in the Solaire Philippine Open and the ICTSI Manila Masters and take a 21st place finish at Luisita.
Veteran Frankie Miñoza, rookie pro Ira Alido and American John Catlin also fired 68s.
The old and new of Philippine golf sizzled at the front with a flurry of birdies, with Miñoza, coming off a missed cut at Luisita last week, birdying three of the last six holes.
“The greens are tricky and the wind was really strong,” said Miñoza, who continued to prove he still got what it takes to contend in big-time tournaments after outlasting Miguel Tabuena in a record five-hole playoff in Bacolod last year.
Alido, on the other hand, matched Miñoza’s birdie-birdie finish, getting a good start after struggling to 41st in Tarlac.
“I played a near-perfect game. My putting and short game were simply good,” said Alido, the former national team mainstay who missed an eagle-putt from 30 feet off a solid hybrid second shot from 240 yards on the par-5 13th.
Catlin, who has figured prominently on the local tour with strong starts only to falter in the end, birdied three of the first five holes in the 72-hole championship sponsored by ICTSI.
“It’s a long tough course and it’s windy. I was lucky to score in only my second game at Orchard,” said Catlin, 26, referring to his pro-am stint on Monday. “Hopefully, I’ll sustain my form or play even better.”
The foursome stood one shot ahead of Paul Harris, also of the US, who carded a 69 while Tony Lascuña stayed right behind with a 70 in the company of Elmer Salvador, Nelson Huerva, Jerson Balasabas and American William Cannon.
Jay Bayron also birdied the last two holes at the front to save a 71 and tie Jelbert Gamolo, Zanieboy Gialon, Dutchman Guido Van der Valk and American Micah Shin at 11th while three matched par 72s, incuding Erwin Arcillas, Japanese Joichiro Kawada and Ryoma Miki, American John Michael O’Toole, Thai Nitithorn Thippong and Orlan Sumcad in the event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc., is backed by BDO, KZG, Custom Clubmakers, Meralco, Sharp, Champion, Summit Mineral Water and PLDT.