Davao – Young Ira Alido surged past a fading Ramil Bisera and Lexus Keoninh with an eagle-aided 69 and grabbed a one-stroke lead over an equally charging Michael Bibat with a slew of fancied bets bouncing back into contention halfway through the ICTSI South Pacific Classic here yesterday.
Alido, who has posted five Top 10 finishes since missing the cut in the kickoff leg of this year’s Philippine Golf Tour in Cebu last June, sustained his bogey-less 69 Wednesday with a chip-in eagle on the par-5 12th then added two more birdies against a bogey to complete a 36-33 card at the newly-opened South Pacific Golf & Leisure Estates.
With a 138 aggregate, the 18-year-old sophomore pro moved up by one over Bibat, who likewise pressed his title drive with his own version of a three-under card (33-36) for a 139 while another shot farther back at 140 is a pair of obscure bets Rico Depilo and Enrico Gallardo who sneaked into the title picture with superb rounds.
Depilo set a new course record of bogey-free 66, spiked by a second straight eagle on the par-5 No. 2, while Gallardo, who has more missed cut stints than made in his last five PGT tournaments, actually blew a six-under card with three straight bogeys from No. 4 but birdied No. 7 to save a 68 marked by five long putts, including a 30-footer on No. 1.
But Alido took command again of a stellar field with his near-impeccable touch on the layout’s unpredictable surface with the rising star hoping to buck the pressure in the last two days and go all the way to the finish.
“My putting worked well – hit a couple of clutch putts and made a number of two-putts from long range. But I need to stay focused and keep it up in the next two days,” said Alido, who has had a number of cracks at a maiden crown, including at PGT Asia at Wack Wack which he led in the third round only to fumble and stumble to fifth place at Aboitiz Invitational.
Bibat likewise leaned on his putting touch to be in contention again, eager to erase the stigma of his playoff setback to Juvic Pagunsan in Iloilo last June that foiled his bid for a first PGT crown since winning at Palos Verdes in 2013.
But two aces got back into the mix after a pair of so-so starts as reigning PGT Order of Merit champion Jobim Carlos rebounding strong with a 67 to tie Philippine Open titlist Clyde Mondilla, who shot a 70, at 141, the same output pooled by Richard Sinfuego, who also carded a 70.
Tony Lascuña, winner of the PGT Asia leg in Taiwan and at Apo the last two weeks, birdied the last two holes at the front to salvage a 70 and tie PGT Del Monte leg champion Jhonnel Ababa, Aussie Fidel Concepcion, Fil-German Keanu Jahns and Cebu stage titlist Guido Van der Valk of the Netherlands, who also turned in 71s, at 142, just four strokes off Alido.
Keoninh, who shared the first day honors in the P3 million event sponsored by ICTSI and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. with 68, failed to match his strong windup in the opening round with two bogeys and a double-bogey in the last six holes and limped with a 75 to slip to joint 13th at 143 with Nilo Salahog, who shot a 71, and Ferdie Aunzo, Rufino Bayron and Paul Echavez, who all matched par 72s.
Worse was Bisera, who opened with a 68 but skied to an 80 marred by a quadruple bogey on the par-3 No. 15. He fell to joint 34th at 148.
Forty-four players made it to the final 36 holes of the final tournament of PGT’s milestone 10th season backed by Custom Clubmakers, Meralco, Champion, Summit Mineral Water, K&G Golf Apparel, BDO, Sharp, KZG, PLDT and M.Y. Shokai Technology with Pueblo de Oro leg champion Reymon Jaraula (73) and fellow Del Monte bet Noel Langamin (74), Allan Remata (77), Venezuelan Rafael Parra (75) and Japanese Takahashi Keisuke (75) all pooling 150s.