Vintage ‘Pacto’ charges to the lead with fiery 66, Davao golfers trailing with 68s

PACTOLERIN.

Robert Pactolerin flashed vintage form and fired a six-under par 66 in a day of torrid scoring at the Del Monte Golf Club which lay virtually defenseless in the absence of the wind, heat and all at the start of the P1million ICTSI Del Monte Championship in Bukidnon, Wednesday.
The former Philippine Open champion and many-time Masters titlist at Villamor, whose game took a downswing after ruling the ICTSI-Sherwood leg in late 2008, birdied the last two holes to cap a near-flawless round of two 33s that
surprised many but himself.
“I’m not a bit surprised of my round because I really feel I can score here,” said Pactolerin in Filipino, who spiked his 66 with seven birdies and two pitch-in pars against a lone bogey. “I feel good and my driving and iron game
are okay.”
But it was indeed a startling round for a player, who turned in so-so finishes in the last four legs of the ICTSI-Philippine Golf Circuit after missing the first three stages following an eye operation.
What was not amazing was 24 other players, including the tour’s big guns, broke par under overcast skies as the wind, the layout’s first line of defense, hardly blew all day to pave the way for perhaps the most low scoring start in the
three-year-old circuit.
It also didn’t come as a surprise that little known Ebarra Quiachon took the early challenger’s role with a five-under 67, highlighted by a four-birdie splurge at the back, as the fancied bets lurked just behind at 68.
They include Juvic Pagunsan, raring to annex a second straight title after dominating the field in the ICTSI Apo leg last week, reigning Philippine Open champion and ICTSI Mt Malarayat leg winner Dabawenyos Elmer Salvador, Cassius Casas,  Louie Dacudao and amateur Jhonnel Ababa and Richard Sinfuego.
Pagunsan, trying to become the first player to win three leg titles in the circuit, went three under after No. 15 from where he started with Mars Pucay and Antonio Asistio II. But he bogeyed the next and hit two more birdies in a
bogey-less stint at the front for that 34-34.
Casas, confident of pulling off a victory here where he had scored two wins in a checkered pro career, had a three-under card after 11 holes but missed the green on the next for bogey before rebounding with back-to-back birdies from No. 14
for that 68.
A shot farther back at 69 were former leg winner Danny Zarate, last week’s joint runner-up Elmer Saban, Edwin Sanchez and amateur former Hong Kong Open winner Dante Becierra while a power-packed roster of players stood at 70, including Angelo Que, Artemio Murakami, Gerald Rosales, Jun Bernis, Albin Engino, Gene Bondoc, Anthony Fernando and ICTSI Orchard leg winner Benjie Magada.
But the day belonged to Pactolerin, down in 41st place in the Order of Merit ranking but hopes to move 20 notches higher with a victory in this ninth leg of the circuit sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc. and
organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments.
“The key here is driving. When you hit it straight, it’s easy to reach the green with the short iron,” said Pactolerin, who missed the fairways twice and salvaged a good par on the par-5 14th after two visits in the bunker. “So it
will boil down to putting.” He was lucky enough to have holed out without using his putter twice – on Nos. 1 and 6 when he knocked them in with his trusted 9-iron off the fringe.

Quiachon, No. 22 in the OOM, went five under with a birdie on No. 1 but dropped a stroke on No. 5 which he recovered with another birdie on the 8th.

Sinfuego, who missed just two fairways, one he was able with a superb punch shot from under the trees on No. 15 and the other he bogeyed on the 17th, had the most number of birdies – eight. But he fumbled with four bogeys, including two straight from No. 11.
Ababa, the low amateur in last week’s ICTSI Apo leg, actually anchored his superb round from a flawless backside stint from where he teed off that had him birdying four of the last five holes for a 32. But he stumbled with three bogeys
in the first six holes at the front and needed to come up with that birdie-binge to preserve a round of 68.
Dacudao, a Davao native but member of the Del Monte team that won its maiden title in the PAL Interclub in 2004, frolicked on a course he is so familiar with, birdying three of the last four holes and finding himself on an unfamiliar
place.
The tournament is backed by MJ Carr Golf Management, Jaguar, Land Rover, Studio 23, Balls TV, Srixon/Cleveland Golf, Callaway Golf, Odyssey and Golf Punk and media partners Business Mirror, Inquirer Golf Monthly, A Round of Golf, Pinoygolfer.com and Omnisource.(pr)

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