TARLAC – Micah Shin showed up veteran rivals Jay Bayron and Rey Bayron with a near-flawless game that produced a tournament-best seven-under 65, putting the young Korean-American four shots clear off erstwhile leader Tony Lascuña after three rounds of the Central Azucarera de Tarlac Open on Friday.
The Davao-based shotmaker, whose lean frame belies his power off the tee, rattled off eight birdies in the second-to-last flight on another fine day at the Luisita Golf and Country Club, including four straight from No. 2 where he quickly erased Lascuña’s overnight one-shot lead.
He then held sway at the back to string a 31-34 card for 12-under 204 heading to the final round of the P2.5 million event sponsored by ICTSI.
“I played well. Everything’s in place, especially my putting,” said Shin, who sparked his birdie spree with a 19-footer on the par-3 second hole.
The 19-year-old ace has put in strong starts in recent legs of the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. only to crumble at the finish. One near-perfect round under preferred lies rule has now given him a clear shot at a first-ever championship.
“I have to maintain this kind of game in the final round,” said Shin, who tied for fourth at Splendido Classic where he lost to Lascuña in the final round. He also shared third place at ICTSI Riviera Classic won by Bayron in a playoff with Clyde Mondilla and tied for ninth at Aboitiz Invitational, also ruled by Bayron.
Lascuña didn’t fare badly either, besting flightmates Ferdie Aunzo and Dutch Guido Van der Valk with a second straight 70. The four-leg winner and Order of Merit leader dropped to second at 208.
“My game is quite okay but I could’ve scored better if not for my missed putts, including four that lipped out,” said Lascuña, who hit just three birdies against a bogey on the seventh. “I need to attack tomorrow (today) and shoot a seven-under to win.”
Mondilla, meanwhile, worked his way up to clinch a spot in Saturday’s championship flight, carding a 68 and putting himself in contention for a fourth leg win with a 209 while Marvin Dumandan also struck back with a 68 for a 210.
Cassius Casas also bounced back from a pair of 72s with a five-under 67 and Elmer Salvador atoned for his second round 77 with a 66 as they tied Bayron, who made a 71, at 211, seven strokes off the pace.