SILANG, Cavite – Elmer Salvador sizzled in the afternoon drizzle with a five-under 66 to wrest a one-stroke lead over Thai Pavit Tangkamolprasert and ageless Robert Pactolerin in the third round of the ICTSI Riviera Classic at Langer course on Friday.
Three off the pace at the start of another wet day, Salvador bucked poor driving and a bogey on No. 2 with solid iron play and superb putting, making four straight birdies at one point to storm past flightmate Pavit after a wild first three days of the US$60,000 event.
The reticent Davaoeno shotmaker, seeking to snap a year-long drought, rammed in another birdie from seven feet on No. 15 to cap a sterling 33-33 round on a softened course that yielded a slew of under-par rounds.
“I struggled with my driving but my irons and putting were okay,” said Salvador, who produced gutsy rounds of 69 and 70 in severe condition in the first two days for a 54-hole haul of eight-under 205. “I needed to focus on the yardage and pin placements since it has been pretty hard the first two days.”
Pavit, in third-to-the-last flight with Salvador and England’s Peter Richardson, bettered Salvador’s backside stint with a 32 to finish with a 67 and a 206 matched later by Pactolerin, who birdied the last hole for 68.
The former Philippine Open champion and many-time Phl Masters winner, who last won in 2011 in Bacolod, continued to defy the odds and Father time, birdying three of the last six holes to put himself in contention for the top $10,500 purse.
“My irons clicked, giving me some birdie chances from close range,” said Pactolerin in Pilipino, who birdied Nos. 8, 10, 13, 15 and 18 inside four feet to negate his three-putt bogeys on Nos. 9 and 11. “I just hope to sustain my form and I leave all my fate to Him.”
India’s Shubhankar Sharma, who birdied No. 18 early morning to complete his second round 67 and take a one-shot lead, blew a three-under card after 10 holes with two bogeys and a double bogey in the last eight holes, hobbling with a one-over 72 to drop to joint fifth at 209 with first day co-leader Nils Floren of Sweden, who fought back with a 68.
Thai Pijit Petchkasem matched Salvador’s six-under card to move to solo fourth at 208, while Jay Bayron rallied with a 67 to join Malaysian Arie Irawan, who also made a 67, and Miguel Tabuena, who matched par 71, at 210.
The rest fell farther behind with Charles Hong struggling with a 73 for a 211 in a tie with Richardson, who turned in a 72 while pre-tournament favorite Tony Lascuna struck back with a 67 to pool an even 213 in a tie with Aussie Darren Tan, who made a 71, and Grant Jackson of England, who carded a 72.
But no lead is safe at Langer with Salvador bracing for a strong challenge from Pavit and sentimental favorite Pactolerin and those behind them, including Petchkasem, Sharma and Floren.
“No lead is safe here at Langer and I have to play a solid game to win,” said Salvador. “It will be tough but I’m confident of my chances. It’s been a while since I last won.”
The other backers of the event, serving as the sixth leg of the ADT and the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour, are Nike Golf, Pacsports Phils. Inc., Srixon, Callaway, Mizuno, Empire Golf, Footjoy, Titleist, Custom Clubmakers, Sharp and KZG with ABS-CBN Sports & Action, Balls and Inquirer Golf as media partners.