TRECE MARTIREZ, Cavite – Micah Shin withstood Charles Hong’s stirring eagle-binge with his own eagle on the par-5 No. 15 that spiked a gutsy windup for a 69 as he kept a two-stroke lead after three rounds of the P3 million rich ICTSI Sherwood Hills Classic at the Sherwood Hills Golf Club here Friday.
Shin recovered from a mediocre front side 36 with a birdie on the 12th and that eagle that foiled a charging Hong of Cebu, who gunned down a Tour record three eagles three flights ahead, the last also on the 15th that pulled him abreast with Shin at eight-under after starting out six strokes behind.
But the 17-year-old Davao-based sophomore pro ripped the par-5 hole off the mound then hacked a superb 7-iron second shot from 190 yards that carried in front of the green and rolled, barely disappearing into the cup.
“It almost went in,” said Shin of his double eagle bid. “But overall, I struggled with my putting although my driving and iron games were a bit steady.”
That kept him on top of the elite field at 10-under 206, moving the reed-thin American-Korean 18 holes away from scoring a breakthrough win in one of the four richest tournaments lined up in this year’s ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc.
“No pressure but I’m going to try to focus more. My target is to shoot a three-under or better to win,” said Shin.
But after whisking off veteran Jay Bayron and Randy Garalde in the featured threesome, the young Shin will have to toughen against the long-hitting Hong, who eagled three of the four par-5s while birdying the other on the way to a seven-under 65 and a 208.
Hong, seeking a follow-up to his lone win at ICTSI Pueblo De Oro in 2012 where he nipped Richard SInfuego in a playoff, pressed his bid early with three birdies in the first four holes. He dropped a shot on the seventh but eagled No.8.
After three pars, Hong again eagled No. 12, bogeyed the next but eagled the 15th to tie Shin, who birdied the 12th and parred the next two to stay at eight-under. But Shin stopped Hong on his tracks with his own eagle then parred the next two, barely padding his lead to three with a muffed birdie putt from two feet on the 18th.
That Shin miss also gave Garalde a crack at the crown worth P650,000 as the first day leader bounced back with a 69 with two birdies in the last three holes, including a tap-in on the 18th, to tie Hong at second in the event backed by Nike Golf, KZG, Titleist, Cleveland, Pacsports, Srixon, Callaway, Sharp, FootJoy and Custom Clubmakers, which also offers P50,000 for the Player of the Year at the end of the season.
“Shin’s a steady a player and had a good short game,” said Garalde, who had two runner-up finishes but still winless in 10 years. “I think I need to shoot a 67 tomorrow (today) to contend for the crown.”
The rest, however, will have to shoot in the low 60s to get back into the thick of things with Jessie Balasabas laying six shots behind at 212 after a 70, and Marvin Dumandan and Canadian Rick Gibson tied at fifth at 213 after a 65 and 72, respectively.
Bayron failed to keep in step with Shin and Garalde and hobbled with a 74 to drop to joint seventh with Gerald Rosales, who carded a 71, at 214 while Mars Pucay fired a 69 to join Anthony Fernando, who shot a 70, and Elmer Salvador and Frankie Miñoza, who turned in identical 71s, at ninth at 215.
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