CARL Santos-Ocampo and Mars Pucay came up with bogey-free 68s to take a one-stroke lead over Angelo Que and five others, while Juvic Pagunsan hobbled with a two-over 74 in the first round of the P2.5 ICTSI Orchard Golf Championship at the Orchard’s Palmer course on Wednesday in Dasmariñas, Cavite.
Santos-Ocampo, out to improve on his 24th place finish at Calatagan two weeks ago, sizzled in the windless early morning and gunned down three birdies before picking up one more shot on the back for nines of 33-35.
Pucay also had a solid start with two birdies on each side of the par-72 layout.
“I had a very efficient round. Solid ball-striking and good short game gave me a stress-free card,” said Santos-Ocampo, who also had a fine start of 62 at ICTSI John Hay only to falter in the next three rounds and struggled to finish in joint 17th.
Pucay, joint 22nd in Baguio and tied for third at Calatagan, rued his muffed birdie chances from close range that would have given him the solo lead in the 72-hole championship organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
“Overall, my game was okay. There were some near misses for birdies but I still believed I made a good run,” Pucay said.
Que, preparing for the US Open qualifier next week, outgunned Pagunsan in their highly anticipated match-up, hitting four birdies against a bogey. The three-time winner on the Asian Tour was joint third with Jay Bayron, Mhark Fernando, Christopher delos Santos, Richard Sinfuego and Japanese Tomokazu Yoshinaga in the event backed by Nike Golf, Empire Golf and Sports Shop, Mizuno, Titleist, Srixon, Foot Joy, Callaway, Pacsports, Custom Clubmakers, Cleveland Golf and Sharp with Balls, Studio 23, Pinoygolfer.com and Inquirer Golf as media partners.
Tony Lascuna, eyeing back-to-back titles after topping the Calatagan leg, carded a two-under 70 for a share of ninth with Edward Reyes and Korean Micah Shin.
Pagunsan had a 35 on the front nine but the Japan PGA Tour campaigner and former Asian Tour Order of Merit champion fumbled with four bogeys in the first seven holes on the back, including a three-putt mishap on No. 16. He birdied the par-4 No. 17 and wound up six strokes off the pace.
Miguel Tabuena, who ran away with the Sherwood Hills Classic crown and lost to Bayron in a playoff for the John Hay title, hit two birdies on the back nine for a 71. The 18-year-old Tabuena joined Joey Huerva, Clyde Mondilla, Anthony Fernando, Michael Bibat and Korean Kim Chang Hoi in 12th place.
Ferdie Aunzo, Jomar Pepito, Glenn de Leon, Dutch Guido Van der Valk and Japanese Toru Nakajima matched par 72, while Gerald Rosales, Dino Villanueva, Jun Bernis, Rufino Bayron and James Ryan Lam were a shot further back.