MICHAEL Bibat came up with solid iron play and putting to score a five-under 66 for a two-stroke lead in the first round of the ICTSI Riviera Classic on Wednesday in Silang, Cavite.
Joint 18th finish in last week’s Philippine Masters, Bibat is looking to score his first title since his breakthrough victory at Rancho Palos Verdes in 2013.
“The game plan was to hit the fairway and near the target and I’m glad I made some good approach shots and my putting clicked,” said Bibat, who tied for second with Korean ace amateur Tom Kim last year behind Clyde Mondilla.
Grant Jackson of England shot 68 for joint second with Charles Hong, Jun Bernis and Erwin Arcillas.
South Africa’s Mathiam Keyser, Tony Lascuña and Rufino Bayron each scored 69.
Australia’s David Gleason, winner of PGT Asia’s kickoff leg at Luisita last month, hardly recovered from a triple-bogey mishap on No. 1 and a bogey on No. 4 with four birdies as he fumbled with four more bogeys at the back for a 75, nine strokes off Bibat.
Jerson Balasabas, who topped the Masters at the tight Villamor for his maiden pro win, struggled and hit five bogeys and a double bogey with no birdie to show for a woeful 78.
Mondilla had an atrocious 79 marred by a double-bogey and a triple-bogey.