DAVAO CITY - Rufino Bayron produced two strings of birdies on both nines to assemble a five-under 67 and grab a one-stroke lead over Zanie Boy Gialon and two others at the start of the P1-million ICTSI Ranchos Palos Verdes Classic at the Palos Verdes layout here yesterday.
Bayron, chasing his first pro victory since ruling a pro tournament as an amateur three years ago, gunned down three straight birdies from No. 6 then strung up four straight from No. 12 to spike his 34-33 card in a day of torrid scoring at the long, rolling layout.
The former amateur hotshot, who placed third to Charles Hong and Richard Sinfuego in last week's ICTSI Pueblo de Oro Championship, could've built a two-shot cushion if not for a bogey mishap on the final hole. He had two other bogeys and a birdie on the first hole on a hot, humid day.
That enabled Gialon, Carl Santos-Ocampo and Miguel Ochoa - and a slew of others - to stay within striking distance with Gialon, who nipped Order of Merit frontrunner Tony Lascuna in the playoff to score his maiden pro win in the ICTSI Negros Occidental Classic last July, closing out with two birdies in the last four holes at the front for a 68.
Santos-Ocampo, who had two near misses for a first pro crown in this year's circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments Inc., was at it again, firing a bogey-free 34-34 round in tough condition in the afternoon, while the unheralded Ochoa also put in a pair of 34s from six birdies against two bogeys.
Three players, led by former Philippine Open champion Gerald Rosales, stood at three-under 69 while Jun Bernis shot a 70 and five more turned in one-under 71s, ensuring another wide open battle for top P200,000 purse in this 12th leg of the 15-stage ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour.
Rosales, out to snap a long title drought in the circuit sponsored by ICTSI, looked headed for an explosive round after birdied the first three par-5s and the par-3 No. 6 to go four-under after 13 holes. He settled for a 69.