JAY Bayron took charge in a punishing day at Wack Wack East, firing a five-under 67 for a two-stroke lead over Marvin Dumandan and Nicolas Paez of the US on Wednesday the start of the Aboitiz Invitational.
Bayron made five birdies in the first eight holes, stumbled with two bogeys in the next six but hit two late birdies, including a curling 50-footer on No. 16.
Singapore’s Johnson Poh, Blake Snyder of the US and local bets Arnold Villacencio and Jobim Carlos scored 70s.
Zanieboy Gialon and Jonathan Woo of Singapore both shot 71s as most of the 126-player field struggled on the tight, hazard-laden layout.
Only 10 players broke par.
“I played it shot by shot and tried to feel my way around the course. But I went for birdies on some holes and was lucky to make some of them,” said Bayron who shone in windy conditions.
Dumandan birdied three of the first seven holes to get going then mixed two birdies against two bogeys the rest of the way to share second at 69.
Paez bounced back from a bogey on No. 10 with five birdies in an 11-hole stretch from No. 13 but missed grabbing solo second with a bogey on the sixth.
Carlos hit three birdies to negate his lone bogey on No. 3 while Villacencio, seeking to snap out of a two-year title spell, rebounded strong in a frontside finish that saw him birdie Nos. 1, 2 and 9 to gain a share of fourth.
Snyder birdied three of the last six holes at the back to join the two-under par scores, who also included Poh, who stumbled with three bogeys but fired four birdies, including on the closing par-4 ninth.
Frankie Minoza, Philippine Open champion at Wack Wack in 2007 and winner of the last PGT leg in Bacolod, had a 73.
Philippine Golf Tour money leader Tony Lascuña, winner of four tournaments this year, had a 76, nine shots off the pace in the event sponsored by Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Inc. and backed by ICTSI, serving as the 18th leg of the Asian Development Tour.