North stars take three-point lead over South after opening foursomes in The Duel
Miguel Ochoa and Michael Bibat celebrate their final hole victory over Elmer Salvador and Arnold Villacencio in the opening foursomes.

MICHAEL Bibat drilled in a bending 25-foot birdie putt on the 18th as he and Miguel Ochoa won 1-up over Elmer Salvador and Arnold Villacencio to punctuate Team North’s huge 4-1/2 to 1-1/2 victory over South in the opening foursomes of The Duel – North vs South 4 on Tuesday at Wack Wack Golf and Country Club’s East Course in Mandaluyong.

The last pairing was headed to an all-square ending after Salvador and Villacencio birdied No. 15 to draw level and both teams traded pars in the next two holes. But Bibat made the most of Ochoa’s approach shot that landed on top of the hole, checking the line of his putt twice before canning in that long downhiller.

“It was close all the way. They were up by two after 8 holes but we took the next two. Miguel birdied Nos. 13 and 14 but they also birdied Nos. 14 and 15,” said Bibat, a former Asian Games bronze medalist with one pro victory in 2013.

The win capped North’s solid first day performance that saw Angelo Que and James Ryan Lam win 1-up over Tony Lascuña and Orlan Sumcad, Mars Pucay and Keanu Jahns overwhelm Cassius Casas and Ferdie Aunzo, 3&2, and Gerald Rosales and Jun Bernis clobber Jhonnel Ababa and Marvin Dumandan, 4&3, in the alternate shot format of the event sponsored by ICTSI.

Charles Hong and Clyde Mondilla delivered the lone win for the defending champions with a 3&2 romp over Miguel Tabuena and Benjie Magada while North’s Randy Garalde and Joenard Rates held brothers Rufino and Jay Bayron to an all-square match.

The Northerners try to pad their lead in Wednesday’s four-balls (best ball), with Que teaming up with Pucay against Dumandan and Aunzo; Bibat and Bernis facing the Bayrons; Rosales and Jahns taking on Lascuña and Sumcad; Tabuena and Rates colliding with Hong and Ababa; Lam and Ochoa clashing with Casas and Mondilla; and Magada and Garalde mixing it up with Salvador and Villacencio.

“We didn’t expect to win since were the underdogs,” said Rosales, a former Philippine Open champion. “But we played our best and Jun’s game complemented well with mine.”

South coach Jerome Delariarte vowed to strike back in the best ball and keep it close heading to Thursday’s 12 singles in the event backed by Nike Golf, Srixon, Callaway, Empire Golf, Footjoy, Titleist, Custom Clubmakers and Sharp.

“They had a very good start while we kind of started slow,” said Delariarte, who steered the team to a runaway 20-8 victory last year in Cebu. “We just look at playing better tomorrow (today) and cut into their lead.”


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