ELMER Salvador played true to form and shot a five-under 67 in tough conditions, posting a one-stroke lead over three others in the weather-delayed opener of the US$65,000 Aboitiz Invitational on Wednesday at the soggy Cebu Country Club.
Play was halted for two hours in mid-afternoon due to threat of lightning and more than 50 players from among the 119 starting field did not finish their round due to darkness. Salvador held the provisional lead over Mars Pucay, Australia’s Darren Tan and unheralded Reymon Jaraula, who all shot 68s.
Salvador bounced back from a bogey on No. 18, his ninth hole, with three straight birdies from No. 1 to get his title retention bid going.
“It’s a good start but it’s tough to play under such condition since the preferred lies rule only applies on the fairway. If you drive to the rough, it will be hard to recover,” said Salvador, who missed the tight fairways just twice, on Nos. 8 and 9 where he both managed to salvage par for nines of 33-34.
Pucay, seeking an end to a year-long victory drought, also had a three-birdie string from No. 6.
Jaraula narrowly missed a share of top spot, hitting a bogey on the 18th.
“I played well although could’ve done better had I made a couple more of birdie putts,” said Pucay, who last won at Iloilo in 2012.
Jaraula, a product of the Frankie Miñoza Foundation, made a surprise start of five birdies in the first 12 holes, including three straight from No. 10 but wavered a bit with two bogeys against one birdie in the last five holes.
Tan also banked on a superb back nine of 32 to force a four-way tie for second and emerge as the best foreign player with Canada’s Lindsay Renolds and local amateur LJ Go in joint fifth with 69s and American Brian Locke at four-under after 15 holes.
Scot Ian Keenan carded a 70 and Swede Malcolm Kokocinski had a two-under card after 12 holes while former ADT leg winner Peter Richardon, Edward Reyes and Randy Garalde all finished with 71s.
Among those stranded was two-time champion Jay Bayron, at one-under card after 12 holes.
Angelo Que was at even par after 12, while American James Bowen, coming off a victory in Jakarta last week, made a triple bogey on No. 2 and was five-over through 15 holes in the 72-hole championship sponsored by Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc. and backed by ICTSI.