CEBU – American Brian Locke came charging home at dusk with a six-under 66 to dislodge Elmer Salvador from the clubhouse lead at the start of the weather-delayed US$65,000 Aboitiz Invitational at the soggy Cebu Country Club on Wednesday.
Locke, a former Asian Development Tour leg champion, hit back-to-back birdies from No. 16 then holed out with a par at nightfall to string a pair of 33s and wrest the provisional lead on a long day where play was halted for nearly two hours due to threat of lightning and six flights got stranded on account of darkness.
Unlike those who played in the afternoon wave of the 119-strong international field, Locke came out of the long delay still focused, coming through with gutsy pars before knocking down those closing birdies to find himself in control with those with unfinished rounds unlikely to catch up when they resume play early on Thursday.
Salvador played true to form and shot a 67 in tough condition and overcast skies but settled for second with fellow morning starters Mars Pucay, Australian Darren Tan and unheralded Reymon Jaraula shooting identical 68s in the 72-hole championship.
Two time champion Jay Bayron also rallied to fire a 69 and join the sixth group that includes Swede Malcolm Kokocinski, Dutch Guido Van der Valk, Canada’s Lindsay Renolds, brother Rufino Bayron and local amateur LJ Go.
Angelo Que carded a 70 to lead the two-under par scorers, who included Anthony Fernando, Korean Il Hwan Park and Scot Ian Keenan while American James Bowen, coming off a victory in Jakarta last week, never recovered from a triple bogey mishap on No. 2 and a 41 at the front, hobbling with a five-over 77 and in danger of missing the cut.
Salvador bounced back from a bogey mishap on No. 18, his ninth hole, with three straight birdies from No. 1, anchoring a solid start that bode well for his title drive in the 72-hole championship he ruled in impressive fashion last year.