TONY Lascuña fired a sizzling seven-under 65 for a three-stroke lead at the start of the ICTSI Apo Challenge at the Apo Golf and Country Club on Wednesday in Davao.
Coming off a big Philippine Golf Tour Asia victory in Taiwan, the the -year-old Lascuna closed with back-to-back birdies.
Former Philippine Open winner Gerald Rosales shot a 68 highlighted by five birdies in the last seven holes on the front nine.
“I played relatively good, everything’s in place,” said Lascuña. “I just hope to sustain my form in the next three days.”
Despite his strong rally, Rosales rued his day-long struggle on Apo’s last line of defense but remained hopeful of finally snapping a long drought on the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Jhonnel Ababa, winner at PGT Del Monte two weeks ago, rebounded from a bogey-bogey miscue from No. 12 with birdies on Nos. 16 and 18 to card a 70 for joint third with another Davaoeño amateur Elee Bisera and Michael Bibat.
Ferdie Aunzo, Ramil Bisera and Rufino Bayron, who also call the Apo their home, churned out identical 71s to share sixth place with Nilo Salahog and Dutchman Guido Van der Valk, winner of the PGT event in Cebu in June.
Other fancied players groped for form, with Pueblo de Oro leg winner Reymon Jaraula mixing three birdies with the same number of bogeys for a 72 for joint 11th with 11 others, including reigning Philippine Open champion Clyde Mondilla and Fil-Am Sean Talmadge.
Ira Alido, who has turned in a number of Top 5 finishes in the last few legs of the PGT, failed to recover from a double-bogey mishap on No. 1 as he fumbled with three more bogeys against three birdies for a 74 for joint 30th with Lexus Keoninh of the US.
Jay Bayron, another local ace itching to redeem himself from a string of mediocre finishes here and abroad, bogeyed four of his first 11 holes and had a rollercoaster finish of three birdies against two bogeys in the last six holes for a 75 in a tie with former PGT Asia leg titlist Joenard Rates and another local ace Elmer Salvador.