LIPA, Batangas – The lesser-fancied bets continued to relegate the pro tour’s revered names to the background in the third round of the P1 million ICTSI Summit Point Golf Classic on Friday.
Marvin Dumandan recalled the fiery form that thrust him into the lead in the first round, coming through with a blazing windup for a 67 to go back on top at 12-under 204 with Arnold Villacencio, who hung tough with a gutsy 69.
Anthony Fernando likewise moved into contention at 206 after a 67.
With fancied Tony Lascuna failing to launch his patented third round attack and settled for a 70 for a 208 and ICTSI Riviera Classic winner Elmer Salvador virtually bowing out of the title race with a 70 for a 212, Miguel Tabuena picked up the cudgels for the favorites by firing a day’s best of 66 to jump to joint fourth at 207 with opening day co-leader Dante Becierra.
Still, the title-starved duo of Dumandan and Villacencio have the inside track on the crown and the top P200,000 purse with Fernando also fueling his hopes for a breakthrough victory.
“At last I’m in the hunt for the crown. It’s been a long time since I last won. But I need to play steady and be able to handle the pressure tomorrow,” said Dumandan, who rallied in the final round to beat Carl Santos-Ocampo in the ICTSI John Hay leg in 2012.
But Dumandan’s game took a downswing since, missing a couple of chances but mostly fighting for top 10 finishes in the last two years in the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Like Dumandan, who closed out with four birdies to get another view of the top, Villacencio hopes to toughen up in the final 18 holes and finally nail the elusive win after a number of failed title bids marred by late-round foldups.
But after a plucky closing 34 in tough condition and salvaging a 69 to at least cling to a share of the lead, Villacencio could only hope for the best as he tries to slay the ghost of the past.
“It’s going to be a battle of nerves. Marvin and I are hitting the ball quite well so it’s going to be shootout,” said Villacencio.
Two behind the joint leaders, Fernando, who gunned down seven birdies to negate two bogeys, also thinks he’s due for a championship.
“I think it is the break that I’ve been waiting for. I should not pass up this rare chance,” said the former national amateur champion. “My friends tell me that I can do it, and that’s a big morale boost going to the final round.”
Becierra and Tabuena missed closing in on the joint leaders. Becierra bogeyed the par-5 16th while Tabuena blew a solid seven-under card after 16 holes with a bogey on the par-3 17th.
Still, the duo remained in strong contention although Lascuna will have a lot of rallying to do to fan his hopes for a fifth crown along wit Cassius Casas, who shot a 69, and Paul Echavez, who carded a 70, for 208s and joint sixth place.
Clyde Mondilla made a second 70 in three days for solo ninth at 209 while ICTSI Royal Northwoods leg winner Zanie Boy Gialon fought back with a 68 but stood seven strokes off the pace at 211 in a tie with Edward Reyes, who also shot a 70.
Other backers of the event, the 14th leg of the 16-stage circuit, 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.