MORONG, Bataan – Micah Shin sizzled in calm conditions at the Anvaya Cove Golf and Sports Club here Thursday, firing a bogey-free 66 to wrest a two-stroke lead over Jay Bayron as the erstwhile joint leaders tumbled under pressure halfway through the rich ICTSI Anvaya Cove Golf Invitational.
The lanky 6-1 Shin dished out an impeccable game off the tee he complemented with solid iron play and superb putting, that netted him six birdies inside 14 feet while saving pars in three times that he went out of regulation.
“Honestly, I didn’t know it. It was my father who told me that I ‘m the new leader,” said the 18-year-old Shin, who surged ahead with a seven-under 137 aggregate at the tight, rolling layout.
The 66 also became the course record at par-72, 7030-yard layout, which is hosting a tournament of this magnitude for the first time.
“Shin 66 is the new course record. No golfer ever shot below 66 since we started operation two years ago,” said golf operation manager American Steve McDonald.
The long-hitting Bayron eagled the par 5, 554-yard No. 10 for the second straight day and went on to shoot a 69 for a 139 while fancied Tony Lascuña climbed to third at 140, also after a 69, and Angelo Que and Cassius Casas, the two other favorites for the top P650,000 purse in the 72-hole championship organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, wheeled back into contention with 141s after a 67 and 68, respectively.
Orlan Sumcad, No. 3 in the current OOM ranking, carded a second straight 71 for solo sixth at 142 while Mars Pucay, winner of season-ending ICTSI Southlinks crown last year, also made a 71 for a 143.
Miguel Tabuena, the kickoff leg winner at ICTSI Splendido, struggled in the early going at the back and fumbled with a one-over 73 and fell seven shots behind at 144 in a tie with Frankie Miñoza and Rufino Bayron, who both shot 70s, and Korean Park Jun Hyeok, who also stumbled with a 73.
Zanie Boy Gialon and Nilo Salahog, who made a fast start of 69s to lead the elite field in the first round, tumbled down just as quickly with the former closing out with four straight birdies at the front for a 77-146 and the latter limping with five bogeys in a birdie-less frontside for a 41 and an 80-149.
Both, however, safely made it to the final 36 holes with 47 players making the cut pegged at 153, including Ramil Bisera who lost three balls but salvaged a 75 for a 152. Notable casualties were Jhonnel Ababa (77-154), Dante Becierra (72-155), Charles Hong (77-156), Anthony Fernando (76-158), Benjie Magada (78-160) and pro-am winner Ferdie Aunzo (87-163).
Shin, seeking a breakthrough on the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour after a runner-up to Charles Hong at ICTSI Sherwood last year, candidly admitted he only found out he was the leader when his father told him after his round.
“I really didn’t know but I played really good. My irons and putter were simply good,” said Shin, who could’ve shot a 65 if not for a flubbed four-foot birdie putt on No. 10 which he reached in two.
Bayron, meanwhile, liked where he stood and vowed to make the most of his title chances in the P3.5 million event sponsored by ICTSI and serving as the fifth leg of the ICTSI PGT.
“I’m good and I don’t see any problem with my game. But golf is so unpredictable and nothing is sure until the last putt,” said Bayron, trying to recall the form that netted him the 2010 ICTSI PGT Order of Merit crown.