Jobim Carlos dropped eight birdies before heavy rains fell and completed a stirring bogey-free 64, wresting a two-stroke lead over Korean Lee Song in the ICTSI Pueblo De Oro Championship here and setting in motion his drive for a second championship in three weeks on the Philippine Golf Tour.
Rains the past few days caused adverse conditions on some parts of the Pueblo layout, forcing the organizing Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. to use winter rules at the start of the P3 million tournament with Carlos making the most of it by gunning down four birdies on each nine, capped by a three-birdie binge from No. 15 for a pair of 32s.
But it also took Carlos a quick swing check on his iron game to get back into the groove after finishing tied for sixth at Del Monte Championship last week where he missed a lot of greens despite solid driving.
“I called coach Carito (Villaroman) the other day and we corrected some minor details on my swing. And it did wonders,” said Carlos, who broke through at PGT Asia at Riviera last month then ruled the PGT Apo Invitational two weeks ago on a strong windup.
He birdied all par-5s, knocked down three more on par-4s inside 10 feet and banged in a six-footer on the par-3 11th, barely missing a 63 on a flubbed seven-footer on the last hole.
“The greens here are a bit tricky. You always have to be on the right side otherwise you’ll be in trouble because most are undulating,” said Carlos.
But a slew of aces kept Carlos within sight, including Lee, now eyeing no less than a victory after finishing tied for second with James Ryan Lam at Del Monte. The young Korean also spiked his 66 with four birdies in the last six holes for a 34-32 card and trailed by just two.
“I had good iron shots at the back but I think my putter was hot,” said Song, who drilled in a 20-footer on No. 13 and drained a 33-footer on the last for two of his highlight birdies.
Tony Lascuña, due for a big win after a string of top 10 finishes, also turned in a solid 67, hinting at a putting contest in the next three days.
“The course is short so putting will be the key here. Whoever putts well will have a big chance at the crown,” said Lascuña, in joint third with Johvanie Abaño and another Korean Park Jun Sung.
Reigning PGT Order of Merit champion Clyde Mondilla finally moved into early contention after a number of missed cut stints in both the PGT and PGT Asia this year due to bad back.
But with a four-under 68, the Del Monte ace is back in the hunt, at least in the first 18 holes of the fourth leg of the PGT backed by BDO, KZG, Custom Clubmakers, Meralco, Sharp, Champion, Summit Mineral Water and PLDT.
He actually went five-under with a birdie on No. 16 after a one-hour rain delay but bogeyed the last hole and slipped to joint sixth with Magno Arancon Jr. and reigning Masters champion Jerson Balasabas.
Majority of early contenders actually anchored their bids at backside with Balasabas birdying three of the last five and Arancon burying four birdies in the first six holes. Kim Joo Hyung also closed out with five birdies in the last seven, including four straight from No.12, to shoot a 69.
Other three-under par scorers are fellow Korean Kim Sung Wook, Joenard Rates, Art Arbole, Erwin Arcillas and Ramil Bisera while Ira Alido, who led in the first two days at Del Monte, rammed in three birdies at the back to turn a one-over card to a 70.
Joining him at 15th are PGT Asia two-leg winner Jhonnel Ababa, Rufino Bayron, Jun Bernis, Mars Pucay, Elmer Salvador and American Lexus Keoninh with Michael Bibat, Marvin Dumandan, Benjie Magada and Rolando Marabe Jr. all carding 71s.
Nicolas Paez, who pulled off a surprise maiden victory at Del Monte, blew a one-under card with a bogey on the final hole as he settled for a 72 in a tie with Ferdie Aunzo, Rico Depilo, Reymon Jaraula, Gerald Rosales, Nilo Salahog, Arnold Villacencio, Spain’s Salvador Paya Vila and Japanese Takahashi Keisuke.