MICHAEL Bibat fired a bogey-free eight-under 64 on preferred lies on Wednesday to set the pace in the P1.5 million ICTSI Rancho Palos Verdes Classic in Davao City.
Bibat, who won at Rancho Palos Verdes when the tour last made a stop here in 2013, turned in a career-best round capped by three straight birdies.
“I didn’t expect to shoot this low but I really liked the course and it also helped that I won here two years ago. I sort of recalled my best shots on some holes,” said Bibat, who preserved his bogey-free round with a 20-foot putt on the par-3 No. 3 where he dumped his tee-shot into the greenside bunker.
Bibat was one-stroke ahead of Ferdie Aunzo, another player hungry for title who also went bogey-free for a 65 featuring four straight birdies from No. 12.
Davao-based American Micah Shin came up with an eagle-spiked 66, while Miguel Tabuena also had a six-under round after gunning down four birdies on the front nine.
Clyde Mondilla bucked a so-so backside start and fired three birdies at the front for a 69 to tie Jhonnel Ababa, Zanieboy Gialon, Orlan Sumcad and Korean Anthony Kim
Tony Lascuña had a 70, which was matched by Nilo Salahog, Christopher delos Santos, Miko Alejandro, Mhark Fernando and Randy Garalde.
ICTSI Tournament Players Championship winner Mars Pucay birdied two of the last four holes to salvage a 71 for joint 15th Keanu Jahns, Rene Menor and Koreans Park Gyuha and Park Jun Song.
Matched par 72 were Jay Bayron, Tonton Asistio, Paul Echavez, Anthony Fernando, Reymon Jaraula and Japan’s Yuta Sudo in the eighth leg of the circuit sponsored by ICTSI and organized by the Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Bibat, who only had one top 10 finish – at ICTSI Anvaya Cove Invitational last May – and had one missed cut after seven legs, set the tone for a low scoring day at the back where he gunned down three birdies while saving pars twice. Sustaining his form, he birdied Nos. 1 and 5 then rattled off three straight birdies, including a 30-footer on the ninth, to complete that 64.
Cassius Casas, winner of two events last year, struggled to a 73 together with ICTSI Luisita leg winner Charles Hong, Robert Pactolerin, Solomon Gines, Nelson Huerva, Rolando Marabe and Koreans Thomas Kim and Lee Hyun Woo.