DINO Villanueva bucked harsh conditions in late afternoon play and carded a 67, gaining a share of the lead with Thailand’s Sutijet Kooratanapisan and Erwin Arcillas in the opener of the Summit Point World 18 Challenge on Wednesday in Lipa, Batangas.
Villanueva, re-displaying the form that also netted him the lead in the first round of the The Players Championship here last year before finishing tied for seventh, charged back with birdies on Nos. 13 and 14 then preserved a 33-34 card with two scrambling pars in the last four to catch Kooratanapisan and Arcillas at the helm, one stroke ahead of Elmer Salvador.
Out to atone for his final round meltdown in the CAT Open at Luisita won by James Ryan Lam, Salvador sizzled with a frontside birdie-birdie finish for a 68.
Philippine Golf Tour top money earner Jobim Carlos rebounded from an opening hole bogey with four birdies, including three on the back nine, for a 69 and a share of fifth with Brett Munson of the US and Richard Sinfuego.
Micah Shin was in joint eighth at 70 with Lexus Keoninh of the US, Japan’s Yuta Sudo and Justin Quiban.
Jhonnel Ababa, chasing a fourth win in two seasons of the region’s newest circuit put up by ICTSI and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc., rallied with two birdies at the front to save a 71, the same output put in by Ira Alido, Ferdie Aunzo, Anthony Fernando, Keanu Jahns, Nilo Salahog, Finland’s Janne Kaske, Peter Stojanovski of Macedonia, England’s George Twyman, Taiwanese Wang Tsung Chieh, Jeremy Wendelken of the US and Arnold Villacencio.
Villanueva, 34, who had two missed cuts in this year’s PGTA with a best finish of joint 31st at Aboitiz Invitational, said he could’ve surged ahead if not for his flubbed birdie putts.
“I missed birdie chances in the last three holes, failed to read my line of putts right,” said Villanueva, whose best finish in the PGT was sixth in Negros last August.