Juvic Pagunsan recovered from an up-and-down round with three birdies in the last eight holes as he turned in a three-under 69 to wrest the lead in the second round of the ICTSI-Riviera Classic at Riviera’s Couples course in Silang, Cavite, May 20.
Pagunsan had an even par card after the par-4 10th from a three-birdie, three-bogey stint, but he came through with back-to-back birdies from No. 11 then birdied No. 15 for a 35-34 round.
Counting his first round output of 70, the smooth-swinging former Asian Tour top rookie pooled a 139, posting a one-stroke lead over Richard Sinfuego heading into the final round of the 54-hole event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments and sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc.
Sinfuego, who opened with a 69 Wednesday, survived a harrowing backside game of 40 as he fought back with a solid five-under 31 at the front he spiked by a hole-in-one on No. 8. He salvaged a 71 and stayed in the hunt for the top P200,000 purse with a 140.
The soft-spoken Sinfuego used a 7-iron and a Pro-V ball in scoring his third career ace, which netted him P10,000 cash and P10,000 worth of gift certificates at Riviera’s pro shop and restaurant courtesy of the host club.
It was indeed a big comeback for Sinfuego, who birdied his opening hole on No. 10 but reeled back with a bogey on No. 12, a double bogey on the next and another bogey on No. 17 for that 40. But he strung up three straight birdies from No. 2, dropped a shot on No. 6 but regained the shot with another birdie on the par-5 seventh before acing the next hole.
Unfancied Elmer Saban rallied with a 33 at the back to fire a 70 and join Mars Pucay and Orlan Sumcad in third place at 143.
Pucay also bounced back from a poor backside stint of 38 with a 32 to salvage a 72 while Sumcad, joint second with Jay Bayron in the ICTSI-Sherwood Classic last March, likewise matched par and stood four shots behind Pagunsan.
Opening day leader Omar Dungca, along with other contenders Tony Lascuna, Angelo Que, Danny Zarate, Ferdie Aunzo and reigning Philippine Open champion Elmer Salvador, who also ruled the kickoff leg of this year’s circuit at Mt. Malarayat, were still playing at presstime.
The top 40 players plus will advance to the championship round of the event, the third leg of the 11-stage tour backed by by MJ Carr Golf Management, Jaguar, Land Rover, Studio 23, Balls TV, Srixon/Cleveland Golf, Callaway Golf and Golf Punk.
Ronaldo Cadayong carded a 73 for a 145, while Joenard Rates shot a one-under 71 to tie Dutch Guido Van der Valk in seventh at 146. Van der Valk, who finished runner-up to Salvador in last year’s RP Open, matched par 72.
Gerald Rosales, the former RP Open winner, turned in a 73 and lay eight shots off the pace at 147 in a tie with Michael Bibat (73) and Antonio Asistio II (74).
Bayron also recovered a bit with a 72 after an opening 78 for a 150 while Marvin Dumandan, winner at Sherwood, also had a 72 after a woeful 80 for a 152.