JAMES Ryan Lam shot a five-under 67 to gain a share of the lead with Carl Santos-Ocampo as erstwhile leader Rufino Bayron fumbled with a 73 in the second round of the Ranchos Palos Verdes Classic Thursday in Davao.
Lam, seeking an end to a string of so-so finishes in the circuit, hit three birdies in the last nine holes at Palos Verdes’ front nine to catch Santos-Ocampo, who salvaged a two-under 70 in a shaky finish in the morning batch. They are tied at one with six-under 138, ahead of Jun Bernis by one heading to the final round of the P1 million event.
Bernis, the former national amateur champion still in search of a big win in the pros, checked an impending skid with a birdie on the par-5 eighth and saved a 69 for a 139 while three others, including Bayron, stood at 140, guaranteeing a shootout for the top P200,000 prize in the 54-hole tournament serving as the 12th leg of the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour.
Despite his bogey finish in another scorching day, Santos-Ocampo remains upbeat of his chances for a breakthrough victory in a young pro career.
“I realized from past experiences that in golf, the more you try to control the situation, the more it slips away. I will patiently let it happen, stick to fairways and greens and not force anything,” said Santos-Ocampo, who blew a final round lead and lost to Marvin Dumandan in the John Hay leg in April.
Bayron, whose took the first-round lead with an opening 67, looked headed for another explosive round when he made three straight birdies from the 12th for the second straight day. But he fumbled with a bogey on the par-3 No. 17 and dropped out of the lead with back-to-back double bogeys from No. 1.
He did recover with birdies on Nos. 3 and 5 to move within one of Santos-Ocampo only to reel back again with a bogey on the par-5 eighth for a woeful 39 and a 73. Others at four-under par were Randy Garalde, who fired a 71, and Gialon, who bucked two early bogeys with birdies to match par 72.
Benjie Magada, a former leg winner, shot a 69 for solo seventh at 141 while Ochoa blew a solid 34 start with a closing 40 for a 74 and tumbled down to 142.
Arnold Villacencio shot a 69, Michael Bibat and Terence Macatangay carded a pair of 70s while Dante Becierra made a 71 as they joined Ochoa in eighth even as Jhonnel Ababa fired a 71 and improved to 13th at 143 in a tie with Richard Abaring and Ramil Bisera, who both shot 69s.
Lam, who had five missed cuts in the season and had a 71 in the opener, was way off the lead despite gunning three birdies against a bogey at the back. But he kept inching closer, hitting birdies on the first hole and two more on Nos. 5 and 7 to find himself on the top for the first time in the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
With Bayron fumbling, Santos-Ocampo surged ahead with a birdie on No. 8 but missed staying alone on top with a closing bogey.