DUTCHMAN Guido Van der Valk bucked a two-stroke penalty for hitting a wrong ball, submitting a four-under 68 for a two-shot lead at the start of The Country Club Invitational at the TCC course on Wednesday in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.
Van der Valk, yet to win on the Philippine Golf Tour, birdied three of the four par-5s and added three more, including the tough par-4 No. 18.
Fil-German Keanu Jahns was alone in second after a 70 that featured three birdies in a five-hole stretch from No. 8. He also birdied No. 18 to make up for bogeys on Nos. 13 and 16.
“I played really good, almost,” said Van der Valk, who had a double-bogey from a two-stroke penalty after hitting Orlan Sumcad’s ball from almost the same spot on the par-4 No. 15. He re-hit his approach and two-putted for a 6.
But he made up for the miscue with that big birdie finish for a two-shot cushion in the P5 million event put up by ICTSI president and chairman Ricky Razon in 2003 to honor the memory of his father and ICTSI founder Don Pocholo.
“The last birdie was just a perfect way to end the day. In fact, any birdie is important, especially on a very demanding course as TCC,” said Van der Valk, who placed second to Elmer Salvador in the Philippine Open at Mt. Malarayat in 2009 and last won in 2011 on the Asian Development Tour.
Miguel Tabuena, winner last year, survived a rollercoaster round of four birdies against three bogeys to take solo third at 71 in the tournament organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
American Micah Shin, a former leg winner on the PGT, matched par 72 marred by a bogey on the last hole.
Jhonnel Ababa, who came into the event oozing confidence after back-to-back victories in the PGT Asia at Eagle Ridge and Pradera Verde, carded a 73 for joint fifth with 2004 champion Tony Lascuña, who gunned two birdies against three bogeys.
Angelo Que got to three under early with eagle on No. 8 and birdie on the 10th but suffered four bogeys and a double-bogey in the last eight holes in an uncharacteristic finish for a player who has won this event three times.
He wound up with a 75 for joint seventh with Salvador, who also failed to sustain a two-under card after 12 holes with two double bogeys and a bogey in the last four holes, while Jerson Balasabas, Zanieboy Gialon, American Nicolas Paez and Sumcad all turned in 77s.
Clyde Mondilla also eagled No. 8 and birdied No. 14 but fumbled with five bogeys and two double bogeys, dropping him way down to 14th at 78 in a tie with Michael Bibat and Arnold Villacencio, 10 strokes off Van der Valk.
“I’m used to playing in windy conditions back home,” said the 38-year-old Lelystad, the Netherlands native, who rolled in his first five birdies inside six feet before drilling an eight-footer on the 18th.
Jahns, meanwhile, mixed four birdies with two bogeys in a round he described as “fantastic.”
“I went for pars as a strategy. But opportunities for birdies came by and luckily, I made some of them,” said Jahns, who rolled in long putts from 30 feet on No. 12 and from 18 feet on No. 16.
“Everything has to work. If I can it close to make birdies, I have to be steady in putting as well,” he said.