DASMARINAS, CAVITE – Angelo Que birdied the 18th in one of the late flights to shoot a five-under 67 and force a five-way logjam for the lead, one stroke ahead of another five-man group in a crowded leaderboard at the start of the ICTSI Orchard Golf Championship at Orchard’s Palmer course here Wednesday.
Que, who skipped last week’s ICTSI Riviera Classic to rest following a hectic stint on the Asian Tour and the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour, came out fresh in the $60,000 event and joined 33 others in pounding the par-72 layout, which virtually lay defenseless in the absence of the wind and yielded a number of eagles.
“I’m really not comfortable with the opening hole here but I played very relaxed throughout since I don’t want to feel any pressure,” said Que, who nearly drove out-of-bounds on No. 1 but salvaged a par just the same to set his bid in motion.
He birdied four of the next 10 holes, dropped a shot on No. 13 but birdied two of the last five to string a 34-33 card in overcast skies for a share of the lead in the 72-hole championship sponsored by International Container Terminals Services, Inc. wrapping up the two-leg swing of the Asian Development Tour.
Aussie R.J. Caracella actually missed grabbing the solo lead after gunning down two eagles as he holed out with a bogey on the par-4 ninth, the mishap underlining his shaky finish after a flawless, eagle-spiked start at the back.
He went on a birdie-eagle start, birdied No. 13 then made the turn at 31 with another birdie on the 18th. But he stumbled with back-to-back bogeys from No. 4 and though he bounced back with an eagle on No. 6 and a birdie on the eighth, he missed the green and bogeyed the final hole.
Earlier, Japanese Yutaka Araki, Aussie Matthew McBain and local ace Cassius Casas all turned in 67s as the five-man lead pack took a one-shot lead over Japan’s Yuki Usami and Masaru Takahashi, Scot Clarke Lutton, and local bets Arnold Villacencio and Clyde Mondilla, who all carded 68s.
Twenty-four others shot under-par rounds, including Jhonnel Ababa, Rufino Bayron, Korean Victor Lee and Malaysian Arie Irawan, who all fired 69s, while
12 others matched par as the talent-laden international cast had a field day at Palmer after a punishing campaign at Riviera’s Langer course last week.
Araki, McBain and Casas hit an eagle each to highlight their respective five-under cards with Araki completing a bogey-free round spiked by three birdies at the back where he started.
It was an impressive start for Araki, who parred the first four holes, birdied No. 14 from three feet then rolled in a nine-footer on No. 16 before holing out with another 12 footer.
He hit a solid 6-iron second shot from 198 yards on the reachable 528-yard No. 2 to within six feet for eagle although the 34-year-old winner of several tournaments in Japan flubbed a couple of birdie putts in the last seven holes.
McBain also had a sizzling start at the back, birdying three of the first four holes then added a fourth one on No. 2 before the Brisbane native dropped a stroke on the fourth with a missed putt from three feet. But the 29-year-old McBain, who saw action in ADT legs in Aboitiz Invitational and ICTSI Malarayat last year, rolled in an eagle-putt from 30 feet on No. 6, putting him in early contention in the 72-hole championship sponsored by International Container Terminals Services, Inc.
True to his vow, Casas came out strong following an early exit in last week’s ICTSI Riviera Classic where he missed the cut by one although he had to buck a bogey start on No. 10 to with back-to-back birdies from No. 12 inside seven feet to get him going. The reigning The Country Club Invitational champion fumbled with another bogey on the par-3 16th but checked his skid with tap-in birdies on Nos. 18 and 4 before ramming in an eagle from eight feet on No. 6 and capping it with a three-footer on the ninth.
“The greens are fine and my putting was good. I really want to contend this week after missing the cut at Riviera,” said Casas, who won the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour’s final leg at Wack Wack last year and opened his campaign this year with a victory at TCC.
The event is backed by Nike Golf, Pacsports Phils. Inc., Srixon, Callaway, Mizuno, Empire Golf, Footjoy, Titleist, Custom Clubmakers, Sharp and KZG.