STA. ROSA, Laguna – Clyde Mondilla put together an impressive three-under 69 on a tough The Country Club course as he stormed to a four-stroke lead over Tawit Polthai in the third round of the Solaire Philippine Open on Friday.
Mondilla shook off an opening hole bogey and birdied Nos. 2, 7, 14 and 17 in the second-to-last flight then watched the last group of Polthai, Namchok Tantiphokakul and Fil-German Keanu Jahns fall apart one after the other,
“I hit my irons pretty solid, my short game was good and I putted well,” said Mondilla, who at one-under 215 is the only player to crack par among the 66 players who survived the cut in the $500,000 event.
Polthai, who closed out with back-to-back birdies Thursday to keep his spot at the top, groped for form and fumbled with four bogeys at the front for a 40 then finished with a 36 for a 76 that dropped him to second at 219.
Nirun Sae-Uenghobbled with a 38 for a 74 for joint third at 220 then praised the new leader’s excellent game that helped put him 18 holes away from winning the crown which absentee Miguel Tabuena won via playoff over Prom Meesawat last year.
“Honestly, I didn’t know him (Mondilla) personally. This is the first time that I played against him but he’s fine, excellent player. He hit precise shots and putted well,” said Nirum of the soft-spoken 2017 PGT Order of Merit champion who would up joint 56th here last year.
Namchok Tantiphokakul, who also wavered with a frontside 41 before rallying with three straight birdies from No. 13, missed joining Polthai at second with a bogey on the final hole for a 75 and a share of third with Nirum.
Another Thai, Chonlatit Chuenboonngam, also stayed within striking distance of Mondilla with a one-under card after eight holes but bogeyed two of his last 10 holes and ended up with a 73 for a 221.
Though the wind did not blow as hard as in the first two days, the rest of the bidders still yielded to TCC’s length and tough pin placements.
Angelo Que typified that struggle as he hit a 30-yard chip shot on the par-5 14th, the ball bouncing off the edge of the green and rolling towards the cup, only to veer to the right side and outside the green again. He chipped in for second time but this time the ball found the hole for birdie.
The 2008 Open champion then went on to birdie the last two holes, including a curling clutch putt from 20 feet off the fringe on the 18th to save a one-under 71 and a 222, still seven shots adrift of the new leader.
“At least I was able to recover in the last few holes. It’s a good sign and hopefully, I can sustain that run tomorrow (today),” said the 40-year-old Que, who has won the TCC Invitational three times.
Joining him at sixth is American Nicolas Paez, who came through with a 73 while Thai Poom Saksansin pooled a 223 after a 74 and compatriot Kasidit Lepkurte turned in a 73 for a 224 in a tie with young Korean and PGT leg winner Kim Joo Hyung.
Jahns, who sparked hopes for a big finish for the young Fil-German after moving to joint with Mondilla and two others halfway through the event, faded with a birdie-less 80 that dropped him to joint 13th at 226 with American Brett Munson (73), England’s Joshua Grenville-Wood (76) and another Thai Charng-Tai Sudsom (76).