DUTCH pro Guido Van der Valk turned in a five-under 66 to seize the top spot, while amateur LJ Go stood just a stroke back after one round of the P1 million ICTSI Rancho Palos Verdes Classic on Wednesday in Davao City.
Van der Valk, who topped the Philippine Golf Tour Qualifier but who could only post a best joint eighth finish at John Hay in three of the first four legs of this year’s circuit, was six under through 16 holes and had a chance to make it a two-stroke lead but hit a bogey on the final hole.
Twenty-four players posted under-par rounds while 13 matched par on a windless day at the par-71 layout.
“Despite that bogey, I had a solid day and didn't really encounter trouble," said the 33-year-old Van der Valk, who had nines of 34-32.
"I know there are a lot of good players behind me so I just have to play better each day," said Van der Valk.
Go, meanwhile, was in solo second after a four-under 67.
The spearhead of back-to-back champion Cebu Country Club in the Interclub golf tournament actually got to six-under through 13 holes but reeled back with a double-bogey on No. 14.
Jay Bayron, Anthony Fernando and Dante Becierra lead the Davao bets’ charge with 68s in a tie with Michael Bibat, a former Asian Games bronze medalist.
Bayron made two long birdie putts on Nos. 12 and 14 to put himself in early contention for a second victory after nipping Miguel Tabuena in a playoff to capture the ICTSI John Hay Championship crown last April.
“It’s nice to start a tournament this way because in Baguio, I needed to play catch up to win,” said the 34-year-old Bayron. “Although it’s still too early to tell, at least I’m in the upper half.”
Becierra, a former Hong Kong Amateur Open champion still in search of his maiden pro win, was at four under heading to the 18th but fumbled with a bogey following an errant drive and poor approach shot.
“I just miscalculated it. But I’m happy with how I performed despite that closing bogey,” said Becierra, 27, whose highest finish on the tour was third at Mt. Malarayat in 2011.
Mhark Fernando, another Davao ace, was in a big group at two-under 69, while former Order of Merit winner Elmer Salvador closed out with back-to-back bogeys to take a share of 14th spot at 70 in the 54-hole tournament organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Others at one-under were Rufino Bayron, Ferdie Aunzo, Jessie Balasabas, Reymon Jaraula, Agustin Mata, Mark Varela, Randy Garalde, James Ryan Lam and Korean Kim Chang Hoi.
Frankie Minoza bucked a double-bogey on No. 3 with three straight birdies from No. 7 but dropped another stroke on the 16th and wound up at even par 71 in a tie with Tony Lascuna, Jhonnel Ababa, Cassius Casas, Jun Bernis, Benjie Magada, Micah Shin of Korea, Richard Sinfuego, Arnold Villacencio, Miguel Ochoa, Rey Pagunsan, Edward Reyes, amateur Francis Morilla and defending champion Carl Santos-Ocampo 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.