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PGT: Frankie Miñoza masters field, Marapara with 69, leads by 3

March 17 ------ Frankie Miñoza kept on dishing out vintage performances even when his rivals – a blend of young and old – hobbled in blustery conditions and tough greens, coming away with a one-under 69 to wrest a three-stroke lead over erstwhile co-leader Albin Engino halfway through the ICTSI Negros Occidental Golf Classic presented by MORE Power in Bacolod on Thursday.

Two birdies in a solid frontside windup enabled the former Asia’s No. 1 to overcome a shaky backside 36 and buck the wind that bedeviled the games of majority of his pursuers, leaving him as the only player from the starting field of 66 to put in back-to-back under-par rounds at the challenging Marapara course. “Like in the first round, I played very good, driving almost perfect. My irons are good and though my putting was not as good, it was acceptable,” said Miñoza, who was as surprised as the rest of the stellar cast to be on top of the heap with a 137 aggregate he spiked with a first round 68.

After birdying No. 10 where he teed off, Minoza failed to get up and down on No. 13 then three-putted the 17th from 25 feet, flubbing a six-footer for par. But he tapped in for birdie on the par-5 No. 2 and drained a 25-footer for another birdie on the fourth then parred the rest for a 33. But two fine rounds do not make a champion golfer, and Minoza, 62, knows fully well that it would take him more than superb shotmaking and putting to end a long title spell in a checkered pro career. “Fatigue will be a big factor, I’m getting old. There are still two more days, so I can’t talk about my chances,” said Minoza, who edged Miguel Tabuena in sudden death here to nail his last victory in 2016. “But I’ll do my best – hit the ball good and be patient – and let’s see what happens.”

Don Petil actually tried to make things happen, threatening to grab the lead with a sterling four-under card after 15 holes in the heat and wind. But like the other pursuers, the 29-year-old shotmaker, who turned pro last October, cracked when the going got tougher, closing out with a disastrous bogey-double bogey-bogey finish. “When I looked at my scorecard (4-under), I thought I could still go lower with three holes to play. But I hit the greenside bunker on my tee shot on No. 16 (par-3) and missed a par-saving putt from 8 feet,” said Petil.

After hitting the fairway on the par-4 17th, he shanked his approach shot from 160 yards and overshot the green from the rough. He chipped and two-putted for 6 then missed the par-5 18th green, hit his fourth shot way past the hole and ended up with another bogey. “The course is in good condition. It just went bad in the last 3 holes,” added Petil, who settled for a 70 and tumbled from second to joint 10th at 142, five strokes behind Minoza in the P2.25 million event put up by ICTSI.


Editor's note:

Over at the LGPT, Sarah Ababa took a step closer to ending a tedious pursuit of a second career win on the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour as she padded her overnight four-stroke lead to six over Pamela Mariano despite a four-over 74 at the Marapara course in Bacolod

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