LUBAO, Pampanga — A couple of top guns out to snap a long spell took charge with identical 69s while a pair of amateurs, a legend, and another pair of former amateur hotshots matched 70s in a crowded start to the ICTSI Pradera Championship at Pradera Verde Golf and Country Club here Tuesday.
Angelo Que and Tony Lascuña produced three-under cards in separate flights.
Que used his length and solid putting to string a 34-35 while the latter leaned on his trusted 3-wood and irons for a 36-33.
“I had a good day, putted well, hit a few bad shots but was able to recover pretty good,” said Que, a three-time former Asian Tour winner, who last won a Philippine Golf Tour event in 2019.
The amiable former Philippine Open champion, who started at the back, reached the turn on 1-under after three birdies against two bogeys. He added three more birdies against a bogey in the first five holes.
Que needed only 25 putts to complete his round.
“I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing — hit the fairways and greens and hopefully hole in more putts and avoid bogeys,” said Que, who is using this tournament as part of his final buildup for the LIV-backed Asian Tour events in Morocco and Egypt starting next week.
To make up for his lack in length, Lascuña made full use of his 3-wood and long irons.
“The course is too long for me and the greens are also tough. But I was able to hit five birdies against two bogeys. So, I’m very happy,” said Lascuña, a four-time Order of Merit winner, who last won at Riviera two years ago.
Lascuña is enjoying top form, coming off back-to-back runner-up finishes at Eagle Ridge-Aoki and Riviera, the last, losing to Juvic Pagunsan in sudden death three weeks ago.
A curious mix of pursuers stood just a stroke behind as Frankie Miñoza flashed vintage form to fire a 70, the same score posted by flightmate Mars Pucay, former Philippine Open champion Gerald Rosales and amateurs Elee Bisera and Josh Jorge.
Splendido Taal leg winner Guido Van der Valk, Jhonnel Ababa and Mhark Fernando shot 71s to likewise put themselves in the early mix in the 72-hole championship organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments Inc.
“My expectation is very low,” said the reticent Miñoza.
“I was playing very good, made three birdies against bogey. It’s a good start but I just came here to enjoy the game.”
So did Pucay, one of the best talents to have come out of the amateur ranks but struggled in the pro circuit in the last decade or so.
“I just want to play, no expectations. The course is long but I made a number of putts from outside the green,” Pucay said.
Bisera, preparing for the Nomura Cup next month, sizzled with a four-birdie binge at the back, but fell off the leaderboard just as quickly with bogeys on 4 and 6.
“I am confident with my game — driving, irons and putting. I’ve been playing good lately and looking forward to contending here,” said the Davaoeño bet in Filipino.
Jorge, a noted power-hitter, also from Southwoods, overcame a two-bogey, one-birdie card after 10 holes as he birdied three of the last six holes for a 36-34.
Clyde Mondilla, the last winner here before the pandemic, blew a three-under card at the back with three frontside bogeys, winding up with a 72 for joint 11th with Enrico Gallardo, Keanu Jahns, and Justin Quiban.
“Lost my rhythm and touch from the tee at the front and missed some fairways. But it’s just three strokes and there are still three rounds left, so I think I’m still at it,” said the 2019 Philippine Open champion.
Also in the early hunt are Ira Alido, Art Arbole, Jay Bayron and Ivan Monsalve, who all carded 73s, while Fidel Concepcion, Kuresh Samanodi, Reymon Jaraula and Dino Villanueva matched 74s.