DAVAO. — Young Ira Alido surged past a fading Ramil Bisera and Lexus Keoninh with an eagle-aided 69 and took a one-stroke lead over an equally charging Michael Bibat with a slew of fancied bets bouncing back into contention halfway through the ICTSI South Pacific Classic here Thursday.
Alido, who has posted five top 10 finishes since missing the cut in the kickoff leg of this year’s Philippine Golf Tour in Cebu last June, sustained his bogey-less 69 Wednesday with a chip-in eagle on the par-5 12th then added two more birdies against a bogey to complete a 36-33 card at the newly-opened South Pacific Golf & Leisure Estates.
With a 138 total, the 18-year-old sophomore pro moved up by one over Bibat, who likewise pressed his title drive with his own version of a three-under card (33-36) for 139 while another shot farther back at 140 were Rico Depilo and Enrico Gallardo, who sneaked into the title picture with superb rounds.
Depilo set a new course record of bogey-free 66, spiked by a second straight eagle on the par-5 No. 2, while Gallardo, who has more missed cut stints than made in his last five PGT tournaments, actually blew a six-under card with three straight bogeys from No. 4 but birdied No. 7 to save a 68 marked by five long putts, including a 30-footer on No. 1.
Alido took command again of a stellar field with his near-impeccable touch on the layout’s unpredictable surface with the rising star hoping to buck the pressure in the last two days and go all the way to the finish.
“My putting worked well – hit a couple of clutch putts and made a number of two-putts from long range. But I need to stay focused and keep it up in the next two days,” said Alido, who has had a number of cracks at a maiden crown, including at PGT Asia at Wack Wack which he led in the third round only to fumble and stumble to fifth place in the Aboitiz Invitational.
Bibat likewise leaned on his putting touch to be in contention again, eager to erase the stigma of his playoff setback to Juvic Pagunsan in Iloilo last June that foiled his bid for a first PGT crown since winning at Palos Verdes in 2013.
But two aces got back into the mix after a pair of so-so starts as reigning PGT Order of Merit champion Jobim Carlos rebounding strong with a 67 to tie Philippine Open titlist Clyde Mondilla, who shot a 70, at 141, the same output pooled by Richard Sinfuego, who also carded a 70.