CARMONA, Cavite – Aussie Tim Stewart fired an eight-under 63 in morning play but barely held off late charge by two local aces in their hunt for birdies that came like rain at the start of the ICTSI Manila Southwoods Championship at the softened Legends course here yesterday.
Charles Hong rattled off five birdies at the back where he teed off in one of the late flights, highlighted his fiery start with three straight from No. 15. He added three birdies at the front to tie Stewart at eight-under but hit the fairway bunker on his drive on the ninth, dumped his approach shot on the left greenside bunker and muffed a nine-footer for par.
He slipped to solo second at 64 while Angelo Que bucked an early bogey on the par-3 third hole with six birdies and an eagle as the duo put themselves in the mix after the foreign aces dominated the leaderboard of the $100,000 event put up by ICTSI early on.
Que, coming in straight from the Japan PGA Tour to boost the local challenge in this third leg of the third season of the Philippine Golf Tour Asia, dropped another stroke on No. 16, another par-3, but holed out with a birdie to force a six-way at 65 that includes American Lexus Keoninh, Thai Tawit Polthai, and Macedonia’s Peter Stojanovski, who also put in 33-32s, Justin Quiban and Chris Hichman of the US, who also charged late with three birdies in row at the front to string a 31-34 card.
Actually in pursuit of a second PGT Asia diadem after ruling final leg of the circuit’s inaugural staging at Luisita three years ago, the young Quiban hit three birdies at the front then strung up three straight from No. 13 to emerge as the best local player until Hong and Que came charging home late in the day.
True to its promise, the event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. drew a run of under-par scores on the flat, rain-softened par-71 layout which yielded 47 under-par cards under preferred lies rules.
Rufino Bayron, Michael Bibat, Clyde Mondilla and Dutch Guido Van der Valk all carded 66s, Keita Sudo of Japan and Thai Thammasack Bouahom fired identical 67s, and Miguel Tabuena came through with a birdie-eagle feat from No. 13 to save a 68 for joint 16th with Joenard Rates, Zanieboy Gialon, Mars Pucay, Thai Ratchapol Jantavara, Pete Vilairatana of the US and Korean-American Micah Shin.