LEE Song birdied two of the last three holes for a six-under 66 and a one-stroke lead at the start of the Luisita Championship at the Luisita Golf and Country Club on Tuesday in Tarlac.
The 19-year-old Song birdied all par-5s then added five more birdies against three bogeys, leading John Jackson of the US and local bet Rolando Marabe Jr. in the US$100,000 (around P5 million) tournament.
“I played well today and my putting worked well,” said the Cavite-based Korean, who hit 10 fairways and 14 greens.
Australia’s Nicholas Coxon shot a 68 for fourth spot, while Erwin Arcillas, Thailand’s Varanju Rattanaphilboonkij and South Africa’s Mathiam Keyser were in joint fifth, a stroke further off int eh tournament offering $17,500 (around P900,000) to the champion.
Jackson, a 30-year-old ace from San Diego, and the unheralded Marabe put in a pair of bogey-free five-under cards in scorching heat while Coxon leaned on a five-birdie binge in a seven-hole stretch from No. 6 against a bogey on the fifth to join the crowded leaderboard.
“My putting saved my day as my driving either went left or right,” said Jackson, adding he needs to play smart in the next three days to earn a crack at the crown in the event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Marabe, whose best finish was third at PGTA Wack Wack topped by Tony Lascuña last year, birdied Nos. 3, 5, 8, 11 and 14 and preserved his unblemished card with four scrambling pars. He could’ve tied Song or grabbed the lead if not for his three-putt miscue on the par-5 ninth.
“I putted from a downhill lie so I three-putted but given the course condition, I think a 15-under total will win here. I just have to take advantage of the birdie holes to stay in contention,” said the 42-year-old Marabe.