Hot Koreans wrest control as Carlos slips

Lee Song
Lee Song

CAGAYAN de Oro – Hot-putting Kim Joo Hyung mastered Pueblo de Oro’s backside for the second straight day on his way to a nine-under 63 and a two-stroke lead over fellow Korean Lee Song as Jobim Carlos barely recovered from a poor start with a blazing windup halfway through the ICTSI Pueblo De Oro Championship here yesterday.

Kim, out to redeem himself from a final round foldup that cost him a crack at the Del Monte crown last week, scorched the layout’s backside with five birdies in row from No. 11 for a solid six-under 30, one stroke better than his first round feat. The 16-year-old shotmaker actually threatened to rip the course with three more birdies in the first four holes at the front but settled for a two-birdie-two-bogey finish for that 63.

But it proved enough to shove him on top at 12-under 132 as the men of the Philippine Golf Tour continued to pound the Robert Trent Jones II-designed layout under preferred lies rule with Lee, joint second at Del Monte won by Carlos, turning in a bogey-free 68 for solo second at 134.

“Every birdie putt I stroked found the hole. I have never been this confident with my putting as before,” said Kim, who used just 24 putts, including a pair of 10 footers, a 25-footer on No. 14, a 15-footer on the fourth and from 16 feet out on the ninth. The rest were from inside eight feet.

“When you putt like that is the best thing that can happen to a player. But this is far from over since there are still two rounds to take care of,” added Kim, who has dominated the local amateur scene the past two years before moving up to the pro ranks this year.

Carlos, whose lead-grabbing 64 Wednesday sparked hopes of another explosive week for the former national champion, stumbled with an uncharacteristic start of three bogeys in the four holes at the back. Through he recovered with back-to-back birdies from No. 15, the Apo leg winner bogeyed Nos. 2 and 3 before birdying the next and closing out with three straight birdies for a 71.

While he dropped to third at 135, Carlos still stayed within striking distance with still 36 holes to play in the P3 million event serving as the fifth leg of the PGT and final stop of the Mindanao swing of the circuit sponsored by ICTSI and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.

“I knew I was already down (in the early going). But I told myself to be steady coming home. I gave myself opportunities for birdies to finish the round. That’s when birdies came,” said Carlos.

Johvanie Abaño slowed down with a 70 after a 67 and slipped to fourth at 137 while veteran Elmer Salvador fired a 70 and tied Philippine Masters champion Jerson Balasabas, who carded a 70, and another Korean Park Jun Sung, who turned in a 71, at sixth at 138.

Tony Lascuña failed to sustain an impressive 67 start with a 72 as the multi-titled campaigner fell to solo eighth at 139, a stroke ahead of a big group of 140 scorers which include Jhonnel Ababa (70), Art Arbole (71), Erwin Arcillas (71), Joenard Rates (71) and Korean Kim Sung Wook (71) in the event backed by BDO, KZG, Custom Clubmakers, Meralco, Sharp, Champion, Summit Mineral Water and PLDT.

Anthony Fernando, meanwhile, rebounded from a disastrous 75 in the first round with a seven-under 75, overcoming a bogey on No. 2 for the second straight with eight birdies, including five in the last eight hole, to join the 140 group.

Forty four players made the cut at 146 with James Ryan Lam, who finished tied for second at Del Monte, barely making it through with a 71 after a 75, along with Ramil Bisera (77), Englishman Joshua Grenville-Wood (72), Rolando Marabe Jr. (75) and Orlan Sumcad (72).

Among those who failed to advance were PGT Asia leg winner Rene Menor (73-147), recent PGTA Southwoods champion Jay Bayron (73-148) and last year’s PGT Calatagan titlist Zanieboy Gialon (77-150).