ROOKIE John Kier Abdon continued to play aggressive at Southlinks, grabbing a two-stroke lead with a gutsy two-under 70 as Rufino Bayron and Rolando Marabe stumbled in the second round of the P3.5 million ICTSI Tournament Players’ Championship on Wednesday in Las Piñas.
While the rest opted to play conservative on the tight par-72 layout, Abdon attacked it with his driver for the second straight day, missing just two fairways in an impressive show of control and confidence. He hit five birdies and moved to the top at five-under 139.
Mars Pucay carded a bogey-free 68 to take a share of second place at 141 with Mhark Fernando, who had a 71, and James Ryan Lam, who had a 72.
Cangolf leg winner Clyde Mondilla had a 73 for a 142 total for joint fifth with Elmer Saban, who shot 70. Ferdie Aunzo shot a second 72 for solo seventh at 144.
Marabe, flawless in the opening round with a 68, never recovered from a double-bogey on No. 4, finishing with two more double-bogeys and two bogeys against three birdies for a five-over 77. He dropped to joint eighth at 145 with Orlan Sumcad (69), Dutchman Guido Van der Valk (74), Jun Rates (74) and Korea’s Gyuha Park (72).
Bayron, who took charge in the first round with a 67, made a triple-bogey on No. 18 and wound up with a 79, tumbling down from first to a share of 13th at 146.
“I didn’t get scared by the tightness of the course because I believe I can put my tee shots on the fairway,” said Abdon.
He did pay the price on his finishing hole on No. 9 where he sliced his drive and had to play out before holing out with a second straight bogey.
“It’s been a steady round and I play the same routine. Hit my drive into the fairway,” said the 23-year-old Abdon, who birdied two of the first four holes at the back where he teed off.
Abdon, joint 28th at Cangolf last month, missed the cut at ICTSI Summit and wound up tied for 32nd at Northwoods.
Pucay, out to snap a long title spell in the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc., made par on the first 11 holes, including two scrambling pars on Nos. 1 and 9 then strung up four straight birdies from No. 12.
“I kind of played conservatively in the first round,” said Pucay, who struggled with a 73 in the opener of the 72-hole championship backed by Nike Golf, Pacsports Phils. Inc., Srixon, Callaway, Mizuno, Empire Golf, Footjoy, Titleist, Custom Clubmakers, Sharp, KZG and Rudy Project. “But I got a little aggressive in the second round with my 3-wood. It’s important to put your drive in the fairway here because I think this is the toughest course to hit your tee shots.”
Fernando hit three birdies against two bogeys to stay in contention for the top prize of P650,000 without using his driver in 36 holes.
“You have to be confident with your tee shot here since one mistake could lead to losing two strokes,” said Fernando, the former national champion seeking to end a year-long drought. “But I think this will go down to a putting contest in the end.”
Forty-one players made the cut at 155, with Jhonnel Ababa out with a 156 after a second-round 80 while Arnold Villacencio, winner at ICTSI Summit, turned in an 85 for an atrocious 19-over 163.