GERALD Rosales fired a four-under 67 to grab a one-stroke lead over Edward Reyes after the first round of the P2.5 million ICTSI Riviera Classic on Wednesday in Silang, Cavite.
Rosales joint fourth last week at Splendido, knocked down three straight birdies on the back nine at Langer course and added two more in the last five holes to negate a bogey mishap on the 17th and take charge of the 72-hole championship.
“The wind was strong early on but disappeared in the last five holes,” said Rosales, who bested a tough field to win the Philippine Open at Riviera in 2000.
Reyes, second to Miguel Tabuena in the series opener at Sherwood, birdied three of the last 10 holes while saving a couple of pars to stay right behind Rosales at 68.
“My iron shots were solid today and the wind suddenly stopped at the back,” said the 19-year-old Reyes, who rammed in a four-footer for birdie on No. 11 before holing out with a 20-footer on the 18th.
Michael Bibat launched his bid for a second crown after scoring a breakthrough at Palos Verdes last June, firing a two-under 69 for solo third.
Mhark Fernando, who won this event as an amateur in 2009, overcame an opening double-bogey by shooting four birdies against a bogey to tie James Ryan Lam in fourth spot at one-under 70.
Lam, who missed the cut at Splendido, also rallied with two birdies at the quiet backside of the par-71 layout to put himself in early contention although condition is expected to get worse heading to the weekend of the event sponsored by ICTSI and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Cassius Casas bogeyed the par-4 No. 18 was joint sixth with Rey Pagunsan at 71, while Benjie Magada and Erwin Arcillas both scored 72.
Elmer Saban, winner at Splendido, dropped three strokes in the last four holes for a 74 and joint 21st with Jun Bernis, Erwin Vinluan, Rico Depilo, Randy Garalde and Paul Echavez in the 13th leg of the 15-stage series backed by Nike Golf, Srixon, Custom Clubmakers, Pacsports, Cleveland Golf, Callaway, Ping, Mizuno, Empire Golf and Sports Shop, FootJoy, Titleist, Sharp, BMW and Gergia Energy Foods.
Tied for 10th with 73s were Anthony Fernando, Jessie Balasabas, Rolando Marabe, Cookie La’O, Johvanie Abaño, Arnold Villacencio, Robert Pactolerin, Dante Becierra and Korea’s Phil Cho.