AUSTRALIA’S Fredrick Park hit an eagle in a three-under 69 on the rain-softened fairways and greens at Wack Wack on Wednesday for a one-stroke lead after the rain-delayed first round of the ICTSI Tournament Players Championship.
A rookie pro who has had a string of mediocre finishes in eight legs on the Asian Development Tour found himself on top of the elite field, leading local aces Elmer Salvador and Frankie Miñoza.
Park made eagle on the par-4 No. 12 with a solid shot from 185 yards then hit a birdie on No. 15.
The Australian was already at two-under card after seven holes but suffered back-to-back bogeys from No. 8 coming out of an hour-long rain stoppage.
Salvador, gunning for a second victory, stumbled with a closing bogey before the downpour while Miñoza flashed vintage form to put himself in early contention on a course where he nailed his second Philippine Open crown in 2007.
“I had a good start but struggled from Nos. 8 and 10. When I finally regained my rhythm and bearing, I came up short on No. 18 and made a bogey. Sayang. I could’ve gained a share of the lead,” said Salvador, who hit three birdies against a bogey in the first four holes, rammed in another birdie on No. 7 to go three-under but bogeyed the next three holes.
Still, the 70 put Salvador on track for another shot at the crown after snapping a year-long title spell with victory at Splendido three weeks ago.
Miñoza leaned on back-to-back birdies from No. 2 and upstaged fancied Tony Lascuña, who turned in a 71, in the featured flight that included Jay Bayron, the two leg winner who shot himself in the foot with a bogey-riddled 78.
“We were on the tee mound of No. 9 when play was stopped so our flight was not much affected. Still we had to contend with the tough conditions all day. I am surprised to be on top,” said Miñoza.
Cassius Casas, who also won an all-local Philippine Open at Wack Wack, was at fourth at one-under, tied with James Ryan Lam and Randy Garalde.
Three-leg winner Clyde Mondilla gunned down three birdies in a five-hole stretch from No. 13 but bogeyed the 18th for a 72 and a share of eighth with Jhonnel Ababa, Edward Reyes, Dutchman Guido Van der Valk and Micah Shin of the US.
Japan’s Toru Nakajima shot a 73 for joint 13th with Nilo Salahog, Jet Mathay, Robert Pactolerin, Rey Pagunsan, Mars Pucay, Ferdie Aunzo and Rufino Bayron in the P3.5 million championship, the final tournament of the 16-stage circuit sponsored by ICTSI and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. and backed by Custom Clubmakers, adidas, KZG, Summit Mineral Water, Srixon, Pacsports, TaylorMade, Sharp, Champion, Ping and Yamaha.