ZANIEBOY Gialon caught fire with a pair of three-birdie binges to spike a stirring six-under 65 as he charged back from joint 18th and into the lead halfway through the ICTSI Riviera Championship at the Langer course in Silang, Cavite on Thursday.
Gialon rattled off three birdies in a row from No. 12 then after trading a birdie for bogey on Nos. 16 and 17 for the second straight day, the 31-year-old shotmaker strung up another three birdies from No. 4 to fashion out a 32-33 card in hot but windy conditions.
That more than made up for his fumbling opening 74 as he took control of the compact field in the P2.5 million event serving as the last of two bubble tournaments marking the Philippine Golf Tour restart.
He pooled a three-under 139 on a day when erstwhile leader Fidel Concepcion turned from awesome to awful with a seven-over 78.
“I played good and hit almost all fairways,” said Gialon, who is out to end a three-year spell since beating Jhonnel Ababa by six at ICTSI Calatagan Golf Challenge in 2017.
He served notice of his title aspirations on the tough par-4 No. 13, which he double-bogeyed in the first round on a couple of wild shots but birdied from eight feet on Wednesday.
In contrast, Concepcion shot five birdies, one less than his lead-grabbing 66 marred by one bogey Tuesday, but he limped home with four bogeys, two bogeys on both par-5s, and holed out with a quadruple bogey on the par-4 14th.
He wound up with a 40-38 and tumbled from the top to joint ninth at 144 with Ababa, who rallied with a 68, and Justin Quiban, who faltered with a 74.
But a mix of seasoned campaigners and rising stars kept Gialon within sight, ready to pounce in Thursday's pivotal round, led by Angelo Que, who stayed a stroke off the pace despite a 73 for a 140 in a tie with Ira Alido.
The 19-year-old Alido, joint runner-up with Rupert Zaragosa in the ICTSI Riviera Invitational Challenge ruled by Tony Lascuña at the Couples three weeks ago, broke a par-game at the back with three birdies against two bogeys at the front for a second straight 70.
Jobim Carlos, the 2018 PGT Order of Merit winner whose game went on a downswing while battling a spate of injuries in 2019, likewise heralded his return to form, albeit late as he closed out with three straight birdies at the front for a 68. He moved to joint fourth at 141 with Zaragosa, who carded a 70.
Ferdie Aunzo and Sean Talmadge crowded Gialon and Que in the lead at two-under overall in one stretch but the former wobbled with three bogeys in the last seven holes and the latter dropped three strokes in a six-hole stretch from No. 7. Both ended up with 73s for a share of sixth at 142.
Michael Bibat shot 70 for a 146 in a tie with Albin Engino (76), American Lexus Keoninh (73), Nilo Salahog (73) and Arnold Villacencio (72).