DAVAO CITY – Obscure Ramil Bisera turned a so-so round into a lead-sharing card behind a scorching windup, catching young Micah Shin and veteran Jay Bayron on top at four-under 68 as the local bets finally stamped their class, at least at the start of the ICTSI Apo Golf Invitational at the Apo Golf and Country Club here Wednesday.
Bisera, who never had a shot at spotlight since winning his first and only crown at Villamor in 2004, birdied the last four holes to card a 36-32 and find himself a bewildered co-leader on a windy day when majority of the 85-player starting field struggled on the unpredictable putting surface of the quaint layout.
Bayron, out to atone for his awful finish of joint 31st at Palos Verdes last week after a run of Top 10 efforts after eight legs of the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour, missed grabbing the lead with a bogey on the ninth, his finishing hole, while Shin, an American raised in this talent-rich city, birdied the par-5 18th to force a three-way tie for the lead in the 72-hole championship organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
They wrested a one-stroke edge over another home bet Tony Lascuña, Korean Anthony Kim, Bacolod’s Nilo Salahog and the hottest player on the tour – Miguel Tabuena, who all fired three-under 69s while another unheralded shotmaker Rico Depilo stood alone at eighth with a two-under 70 and another long shot Allan Remata carded a 71.
Frankie Miñoza, back in the hunt after missing the action at Palos Verdes ruled by Tabuena, shot two birdies against the same number of bogeys for joint 10th with fellow veteran Robert Pactolerin and young gun Clyde Mondilla while a host of others stood a stroke or two farther back the joint leaders with still three rounds left in the P1.5 million event sponsored by ICTSI.
It took Bisera, who missed the cut in the first two legs of this year’s circuit and wound up tied for 36th, 29th and 31st in the last three stages, 10 holes before sinking first birdie on a course he calls home. But he bogeyed No. 12, hit another birdie on the next, only to drop another stroke on No. 15.
Resigned to another mediocre finish, Bisera suddenly turned it into a blazing windup, birdying the last four holes inside four feet.
‘It was unexpected. The birdies just came along and I’m happy and surprised to be in the lead,” said the 41-year-old Bisera, who also won a pro-am tournament with then amateur Shin, three years ago.
Shin, who has had a couple of runner-up finishes in a young pro career, proved awesome with five birdies against a bogey after 11 holes but he sputtered a bit in the closing holes with two bogeys against two more birdies, the last at the reachable 18th.
Bayron, the former Order of Merit champion, who placed fifth and sixth at Luisita and Riviera, respectively, but tumbled to joint 31st at Palos Verdes, shot a 34 at the back and carried a five-under card with three birdies in a four-hole stretch from No. 3. But after parring Nos. 7 and 8, the ace Davaoeño shotmaker hit an errant drive on the ninth and fell short of the green and missed a par-putt bid from 20 feet.
“It’s hard to read the greens,” rued Lascuna, who three-putted the par-5 No. 13 from four feet, missed a couple of birdie chances from five feet but buried back-to-back birdies from six feet from No. 17 to put himself in early contention.