Rufino Bayron takes charge with 66 as Shin crumbles



SILANG, Cavite – Rufino Bayron took advantage of benign condition despite a late tee-off then bucked the terrors lurking on Langer’s tough greens to fire a five-under 66 and storm to a four-stroke lead as erstwhile leader Micah Shin bombed out at the finish halfway through the ICTSI Riviera Classic here Thursday.

Rufino Bayron watches his drive on No. 9.
Rufino Bayron watches his drive on No. 9.

Bayron, seeking an end to a two-year title spell, came away with three birdies in the last seven holes at the front to complete a 32-34 card in the last flight then found himself with a huge lead as Shin blew what had been another solid start with a shaky finish of four bogeys in the last seven holes at the back for a 72.

That enabled Bayron, who shot a 67 Wednesday, to wrest control at nine-under 133, moving him 36 holes away from nailing his first victory since topping the Asian Development Tour leg at Orchard in 2014.

Shin, impressive with an opening 65, looked headed for another superb round after he birdied No. 10 for the second straight day to go three-under. But he missed the par-3 12th, dropped another stroke on No. 14 then bogeyed the last two.

He slipped to joint second at 137 in a tie with a charging Clyde Mondilla, who continued to outplay last week’s Aboitiz Invitational winner Jay Bayron and Philippine Golf Tour four-leg winner Tony Lascuña and carded a three-under 68.

With his back injury gone, Clyde Mondilla is back in the hunt.
With his back injury gone, Clyde Mondilla is back in the hunt.

Nicolas Paez, who had a so-so 72 in the first round of the P2 million championship sponsored by ICTSI, made an early charge of eagle-birdie feat at the back and birdied No. 1 to wheel back into contention. But the American, who led in the middle rounds at Wack Wack last week but fumbled in the final day, missed a couple of birdie chances and bogeyed No. 8 to settle for a 68 and a share of fourth with Jobim Carlos and Jay Bayron at 140, seven strokes off the pace.

Carlos squandered a two-under card with bogeys on Nos. 14 and 17 for a 71 while Jay Bayron, eyeing a second straight win following his two-shot win over Malaysian Gavin Green at Wack Wack, missed grabbing solo fourth with a bogey on the ninth for a 69.

Rico Depilo carded a 70 to grab solo seventh at 142 while Artemio Murakami and John Rey Pactolerin fired identical 70s to join Cebuano Charles Hong and Rey Pagunsan, who both shot 71s, and Jhonnel Ababa, who wavered with a 73, at 144.

Lascuña, who strung up three straight wins at Eagle Ridge, Forest Hills and Bacolod, hardly recovered from an opening 74 with an even par 71 for a share of 13th at 145 with Japanese Shotaro Onuki and Korean Jun Min Seok, who turned in a pair of 70s, Paul Echavez, who fumbled with a 72, and Alvin Engino, who hobbled with a 76.

Elmer Salvador, back-to-back champion of this event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. and backed by Custom Clubmakers, adidas, KZG, Summit Mineral Water, Srixon, Pacsports, TaylorMade, Sharp and Champion, virtually bowed out of title race with a second 73 for a 146, falling behind by 13 strokes.

Rufino Bayron, who missed the cut at Wack Wack but came out strong here with a 67, rammed in three birdies against a bogey at the back yesterday then after a birdie-bogey start at the front, the former national standout birdied Nos. 3, 5 and 7 to find himself towing a talent-field.

That includes Mondilla, also seeking a big rebound after withdrawing from Abotiiz in the third round with a bad back, as the rising Del Monte star checked a rollercoaster backside stint of three birdies against two bogeys with two birdies in a solid frontside finish for a 33-35 card.

The 19-year-old Shin is also raring to atone for his backside meltdown although he will be up against Rufino Bayron and Mondilla in today’s featured threesome where the reed-thin Davao-based American will need more than superb shotmaking and putting to overhaul a four-stroke deficit.

Paez, Carlos and Jay Bayron will also need to shoot in the 60s and hope the three in front of them would waver to get a crack at the top P270,000 purse in this 12th leg of the country’s premier circuit.

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