MANILA, (PNA)– Young golfer Gerald Rosales started at the back to net a four- under 67 and a one stroke lead over Edward Reyes in Silang, Cavite at the start of the P2.5 million ICTSI Riviera Classic at Langer course on windy Wednesday.
“The wind was strong early on but disappeared in the last five holes,” said Rosales, who bested a tough field to win the Philippine Open here in 2000, which proved to be his last major win as he went on a slump with injuries and poor form.
Rosales went two-up after following up his three-birdie string with a pair of tap-in birdies on Nos. 14 and 16 but he three-putted the overlooking 17th green and settled for a 35-32 round to take charge of the 72-hole championship.
Reyes, second to Miguel Tabuena in the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour kickoff leg at Sherwood last March, birdied three of the last 10 holes while saving a couple of pars to stay right behind Rosales at 68.
“My iron shots were solid today and the wind suddenly stopped at the back,” said the 19-year-old Reyes, who rammed in a four-footer for birdie on No. 11 before holing out with a 20-footer on the 18th.
Michael Bibat launched his bid for a second crown after scoring a breakthrough at ICTSI Palos Verdes last June with a two-under 69 for solo third.
Mhark Fernando, who won this event as an amateur in 2009, overcame an opening double-bogey mishap with four birdies against a bogey to tie James Ryan Lam at fourth at one-under 70.
Lam, who missed the cut at Splendido, also rallied with two birdies at the quiet backside of the par-71 layout to put himself in early contention although condition is expected to get worse heading to the weekend of the event sponsored by ICTSI and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Cassius Casas, foiled by first-time winner Elmer Saban last week, bogeyed the par-4 18th and dropped to joint sixth with Rey Pagunsan.
Pagunsan had a 37-34 card at 71 while Benjie Magada and Erwin Arcillas stood five adrift off Rosales with identical one-over 72s.
Fish-slim Saban, who displayed steely nerves to hold off Casas in their backside duel at Splendido, wavered coming home this time, dropping three strokes in the last four holes at the back for a 74 and joint 21st with Jun Bernis, Erwin Vinluan, Rico Depilo, Randy Garalde and Paul Echavez.
Tied for 10th with 73s are Anthony Fernando, Jessie Balasabas, Rolando Marabe, Cookie La’O, Johvanie Abaño, Arnold Villacencio, Robert Pactolerin, Dante Becierra and Korean Phil Cho.
The event, serving as the 13th leg of a 15-stage series, is backed by Nike Golf, Srixon, Custom Clubmakers, Pacsports, Cleveland Golf, Callaway, Ping, Mizuno, etc.