DAVAO CITY — Nilo Salahog recovered from a miss-step down the stretch Wednesday to share top spot with late-charging Justin Quiban halfway through the ICTSI South Pacific Classic here.
After a 67 on opening day, Salahog strung up four birdies in the first 12 holes. He allowed Quiban to take the lead momentarily following a spotty No. 13, before straightening things up to score a 68.
Yet Salahog kept his composure to tally a nine-under 135, tying Quiban who also carded a 68 Wednesday.
“I wasn’t expecting to lead but with the way I’m playing, I feel like I’m confident. I think I could hit the rounds that I’d like to shoot,” Quiban said.
Quiban first won in Binitin, Negros Occidental in 2018. He nailed a victory in PGT Asia at Luisita in the same year.
Salahog, chasing his maiden triumph on the Pilipinas Golf Tour put up by ICTSI, will now have his hands full entering the lasy two rounds of the P2 million championship supported by Kampfortis Golf.
“Driving, irons at putting, it all looks good to me,” Salahog said.
“Yes, there is pressure on my part because there are a lot of really good players here.”
Marvin Dumandan seized solo third at 137 after shooting an eagle-aided 68, and Iloilo leg runaway winner Rupert Zaragosa bounced back with a four-under card for a 138.
Tony Lascuña, who beat Ira Alido by three here to cap a three-victory run in 2019, re-emerged with a 68 for 139. Elee Bisera also shot a four-under card to move to solo sixth at 140.
Cebu-based Japanese Gen Nagai carded a 70 to tie Keanu Jahns and Dino Villanueva, who matched 72s, at 141. Locals Elmer Salvador, who fired a 70, and Jay Bayron and Ferdie Aunzo, who matched 71s, pooled identical 142s.
Three-peat seeking Clyde Mondilla continued to struggle on the course’s exacting surface and finished with a 71 after a 72 Tuesday for a 143 — eight strokes behind the joint leaders.
Joining Mondilla at 13th are Art Arbole. Francis Morilla and Jhonnel Ababa, who shot 67, 72 and 74, respectively.
Still, Quiban looms as the marked player in the last two rounds and the one-time PGA Tour campaigner said he’s more ready to take up the challenge both from the cream of the pro crop and the best of emerging stars.
“I’ve been in contention for the past few weeks even outside of the country, so I feel I’m getting used to playing to this kind of conditions. I think, it will boil down to experience. Just pure focus,” Quiban said.
“One could only get lucky with putting on this type of greens. Honestly, you can’t manage these greens. You will need pure luck, you just have to read every side and every angle of the putts.”