MANILA - Mhark Fernando pulled off a big victory yesterday with a three-under 68 for a three-stroke lead at the P2 million ICTSI Rivera Classic at the Riviera Golf and Country Club designed by Germany's golf great Bernhard Langer in Silang, Cavite.
Amidst threatening rain and wind, Fernando saw himself hitting three birdies at the back that anchored his 35-33 card for a 36-hole aggregate of four –under 138.
“There's wind but not as strong that's why I was able to score,” said Fernando, who improved a bit with a bogey on the par-4 No. 1 on Wednesday when he double-bogeyed in the first round of the 72-hole championship organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
“I also got lucky to set up a number of birdie chances since it's tough to make a birdie here,” added Fernando.
Like in the opener where he fought back to shoot a 70, the former national champion rebounded with a mix of pars and birdies, finishing with a flourish and moving 36 holes away from duplicating his victory here five years ago as an amateur.
Former 2000 Philippine Open champion Gerald Rosales, brother of the more famous Jeniffer who is based in the US, left the clubhouse in a huff after signing his score card with four more bogeys against two birdies for a total of 143 that dragged him down to fifth place.
Marvin Dumandan flashed his familiarity with the ravine-laced layout as the former club pro rattled off five birdies at the back for a fiery 31 and a 66 after an opening 75, moving past 24 players and into joint second with Edward Reyes at 141.
Reyes birdied the par-3 No. 17 to salvage a 73 and a spot in Thursdays's featured flight in this 13th leg of the circuit sponsored by ICTSI.
“The pins were a lot tougher today,” said Reyes, who made three birdies from close range to negate three bogeys but dropped two strokes on No. 11 which he birdied Wednesday, after overshooting the green twice.
Cassius Casas hit back-to-back birdies from No. 15 and saved a second straight even par 71 for solo fourth at 142 while unheralded Paul Echavez fired a two-under 69 to join Rosales and ICTSI Palos Verdes winner Michael Bibat, who limped with a birdie-less 74, at fifth.
Elmer Saban, seeking to complete a back-to-back title romp after scoring a breakthrough at ICTSI Splendido last week, gunned down two birdies at the front but fumbled with two bogeys against a birdie at the back for a 70, gaining a share of eighth at 144 with Rey Jun Bernis, Jessie Balasabas and Rey Pagunsan, who turned in 70, 71 and 73, respectively. *PNA
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