CASSIUS Casas and Elmer Saban shot two-under 70s to keep their place on top as erstwhile co-leaders Rey Pagunsan and Jun Rates slipped back after the second round of the P1 million ICTSI Splendido Classic on Thursday at the Splendido Golf and Country Club in Tagaytay.
Casas birdied Nos. 14 and 18 for the second straight day, while Saban hit three birdies against a bogey in the first 10 holes then closed out with a run of pars to match his fellow Davaoeno’s two-round total of six-under 138.
Pagunsan failed to keep his spot on top with a bogey on the par-5 No. 18, ending up with a 71 and dropping to joint third at 139 with American Samuel Cyr (68), Korean Hanmil Jung (69) and Jay Bayron (70).
Lift, clean and place was in play due to rain and strong winds in the second round of the 54-hole tournament serving as the 12th leg of the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour.
“I’m still knocking on the door. I just want to show them that I’m still here fighting,” said Casas, who used to dominate the local circuit in the early 2000s but has struggled to regain his form.
Rates birdied No. 4 to stay in the mix but reeled back by dropping four strokes in a three-hole stretch from No. 7. He finished with a 75 and fell to joint 13th at 143.
Money leader Tony Lascuna, who carded a 76 in the first round, withdrew from the tournament offering a top prize of P200,000 so as not to aggravate the back injury that has bothered him in his last few tournaments.
Dante Becierra turned in a 68 to move to joint seventh with Rufino Bayron, who had a 70, at 140. Dutch Guido Van der Valk shot a 71 for a 141.
Miguel Tabuena, No. 2 on the Order of Merit, was at two-under 142 after a second 71, joining joined Japanese Tomokazu Yoshinaga (71) and Gerald Rosales (72) in 10th place.
“It’s tough to putt, the greens are slow. The fairways are also soggy but it’s good that we played under preferred lies so I made a charge since it’s difficult if you fall behind by so many strokes as the greens are tough to read,” said Bayron, who won at ICTSI John Hay. He had five birdies, including three straight from No. 1, against two bogeys.
Cyr birdied the first three holes, hitting all but two greens in regulation as the in-form American put himself in contention after finishing second in last week’s Taiwan Masters.
“It was windy just the way when I practiced the course before the tournament and that made it easy to play since I knew where to hit it in that condition,” said the 27-year-old Cyr, who barely missed an eagle on No. 11.
Young Korean Jung Hanmil also primed up for a breakthrough win as he had a brilliant four-birdie binge at the back.
“It’s my first time to be in this position in the ICTSI PGT event. I’m very hapy with my short game,” said the 22-year-old Jung, playing out of Riviera, who muffed an eagle try from 15th feet on No. 15.
The event is sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc., organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. and 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.