Concepcion up by 1 with 66

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    LEADER: Concepcion seizes control early.

    FIDEL Concepcion brandished hot irons and putter in cloudy, windy conditions then bucked fatigue and Langer’s tough finishing hole to snatch a one-stroke lead over fancied Angelo Que with a five-under 66 at the start of the ICTSI Riviera Championship in Silang, Cavite yesterday.

    A bogey on the treacherous par-4 18th ruined what could have been an explosive round for the former Southern Utah University standout, who came into the P2.5 million event upbeat of his chances against the Philippine Golf Tour’s big guns after finishing tied for seventh with Miguel Tabuena in the ICTSI Riviera Invitational Challenge at the adjacent Couples course three weeks ago.

    He had three birdies at the front set up by superb approach shots on the receptive surface then birdied three of the first four holes at the tougher backside of the par-71 layout. He, however, missed completing an impeccable round after missing the 18th green and failing to go up-and-down for nines of 32-34.

    “I was so tired (going to the 18th green) and couldn’t control my shot,” rued the 24-year-old Concepcion, who grew up in Sydney, Australia and finished at No. 15 in last year’s PGT Order of Merit ranking.

    Still, it pushed the young shotmaker, who birdied Nos. 3, 4, 7, 10, 12 and 13, on top of the heap, as Que, who tied Concepcion at five-under with an eagle on the par-5 16th two flights behind, slipped with a bogey on the layout’s signature par-3 17th and settled for a 67.

    “I executed a lot of shots well and thought I didn’t make a lot of mistakes, apart from a few misreads,” added Concepcion, who kept working on his skills during the long break due to the global health crisis.

    It actually took the big-hitting Que, who placed fourth at the Couples, six holes before draining his first birdie. After negating his birdie on the 10th with a bogey on No. 12, he birdied two of the next three then flashed his awesome power and eagled the 16th to earn a shared view of the top, only to reel back with a bogey on the next for a 34-33.