Angelo Que pounded Mt. Malarayat’s composite course with another superb all-around game, breaking off a tie with Clyde Mondilla and wresting a three-stroke lead despite a bogey finish for a four-under 68 halfway through the ICTSI Classic in Lipa City.
Three birdies to close out the Mt. Makulot backside shoved the power-hitting Que to the solo lead as Mondilla wavered with a 37 in a separate flight and the former three-time Asian Tour winner held sway at the Mt. Lobo side with three more birdies against two bogeys for a 35-33 card.
He pooled an 11-under 133 and readied himself for an expected charge of the big guns in the last 36 holes of the P2 million championship.
“I’m good and will play the same game – hit the fairways and greens and make the most of my birdie opportunities,” said Que, who missed making it a four-stroke lead on a missed green mishap on the ninth.
Mondilla needed a fiery windup – three birdies in the last four holes – at Mt. Lobo to save a 71 but the Southwoods and Philippine Masters winner, who matched Que’s opening 65, fell three shots behind at 136 in a tie with Australian Nathan Park, who two of the last eight holes to turn in a second 68.
Six other players also sustained their form and turned in under-par scores with hardly a breeze to challenge the elite field for the second straight day while a slew of others rebounded from over par cards with sub-par outputs at the well-maintained layout.
Joenard Rates, out to snap a three-year title slump, and Jerson Balasabas, seeking a breakthrough win in the circuit sponsored by ICTSI, shot identical 70s and remained tied at 139, the same output put in by Omar Dungca and Jun Bernis, who fought back from 74 and 73 with 65 and 66, respectively.
Veteran Jay Bayron, priming up for his defense of the Aboitiz Invitational crown next month, also struck back with a 67 after a 73 while James Ryan Lam put in a bogey-free tournament-best eight-under 64 after a 76 to force a six-way tie at eighth at 140 with Kris Etter (69), Benjie Magada (71), Orlan Sumcad (69) and Manila-based Dutchman Guido Van der Valk (67).
The rest stood too far off Que with Jhonnel Ababa carding a 71 for joint 14th with Albin Engino, who rallied with a 66, while Zanieboy Gialon also recovered from a 73 with a 69 for a 142 in a tie with Randy Garalde and Frankie Miñoza, who fumbled with similar 73s.
Rufino Bayron fired a 70 to join seven others at four-over 148, who made the 40-plus cut in the 72-hole championship organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. and backed by Custom Clubmakers, BDO, Meralco, Sharp, KZG, PLDT, Champion, Summit Mineral Water and K&G Golf.
Other survivors were Mhark Fernando (72), Cassius Casas (73), Korean Lee Jae Won (73), Ferdie Aunzo (75), Eric Gallardo (75) and Francis Morilla (75).
While Que continued to flash top form, Lam provided the day’s big surprise with that stirring eight-birdie splurge, highlighted by a four-straight feat from No. 11 coming off a four-over card Wednesday. He also birdied Nos. 2, 5, 7 and 18 although his effort fell two strokes off Jason Dawes’ record 10-under card during the 2005 Philippine Open.
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