CARL Santos-Ocampo fired a second straight 68 to keep a share of the lead, while Tony Lascuna joined him on top of the leaderboard with a sizzling six-under 66 in the second round of the ICTSI Orchard Golf Championship on Thursday in Dasmariñas, Cavite.
Santos-Ocampo made a late charge with three birdies in the last eight holes for nines of 35-33 and a 136 total at the Palmer course.
While Santos-Ocampo leaned on a strong finish to remain on top, Lascuna used a strong start of 31 in one of the early flights and played steady down the stretch to fortify his bid for back-to-back titles after romping off with a four-shot win in Calatagan two weeks ago.
The pair was two shots ahead of Michael Bibat, who got to seven under but slid back with a faltering finish. He checked his skid in time, making birdie on the par-5 No. 18 to save a five-under 67 and a 138 aggregate.
“I’ve been hitting good drives lately. In this course, a good drive will reward a player with a birdie chance and that’s what happened,” said Lascuna, now back in shape after being slowed down by a back injury early in the season.
The reigning ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour Order of Merit champion highlighted his fiery start with three straight birdies from No. 7. Although he stumbled with a bogey on the 10th, the ace Davaoeño shotmaker birdied two of the last six holes.
Santos-Ocampo rolled in a long birdie on No. 2 and made a tap-in on the fourth to resume his bid but fell back with a flubbed par putt from eight feet on No. 5. He, however, bounced back with back-to-back birdies from No. 11 from 15 feet then hit another from nine feet on the 16th for that 68.
"I’m getting comfortable with my long and short game. I’ve learned a lot in my three years on the tour,” said Santos-Ocampo in a phone interview. “And I believe in myself more now that I can be at par with the tour's best players.”
Bibat, a former Asian Games bronze medalist now chasing a breakthrough win in the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc., appeared headed for a big finish by matching Lascuna’s 31 start. He gained a share of the lead with back-to-back birdies from No. 12 but reeled back just as quickly with a three-putt bogey on No. 14.
He later dropped two shots on the par-4 17th but came up with a closing birdie.
First round co-leader Mars Pucay lost his touch after a 68 in the first round, limping with a two-over 74 and tumbling to joint eighth at 142 in the P2.5 million event serving as the fourth leg of the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour.
Angelo Que stayed in the title hunt despite poor putting as he shot a 70 for a 139 in the 72-hole tournament offering a top prize of P450,000.
“My putting was off today but I’m still happy to be up there, just three off the pace,” said Que, who missed a couple of birdie putts from close range.
Miguel Tabuena also moved into contention with a three-under 69, tying Richard Sinfuego (71) and Japanese Tomokazu Yoshinaga (71) at 140 in the event backed by Nike Golf, Empire Golf and Sports Shop, Mizuno, Titleist, Srixon, Foot Joy, Callaway, Pacsports, Custom Clubmakers, Cleveland Golf and Sharp with Balls, Studio 23, Pinoygolfer.com and Inquirer Golf as media partners.