ARNOLD Villacencio sank a pitch-in eagle on the par-4 No. 15, spiking a solid five-under-67 for a two-stroke lead over Anthony Fernando yesterday at the start of the Philippine Golf Tour Qualifying School at the Splendido Taal Golf Club in Batangas.
Villacencio, a former PGT leg winner at Summit Point who ended up No. 41 in the last PGT Order of Merit, birdied all but one of the four par-5s then knocked down an eagle on the 15th to complete nines of 34-33 in the 72-hole eliminations being held alongside with the foreign qualifiers for the 11th season of the country’s premier circuit.
The PGT Asia will hold its own Q-School on April 22-25 at Luisita Golf and Country Club with the fourth season of the region’s emerging circuit set to unfold on April 28-May 1 with the ICTSI Luisita Championship, also in Tarlac.
Fernando, a former national titlist, birdied two of the first two holes at the back then fought back from a two-bogey, one-birdie card at the front with a pitch-in eagle on No. 7 to save a 69 while Raymund Gonzales and Francis Morilla shot a pair of 70s for joint third.
Arnel Enema missed grabbing a share of second with two bogeys in the last four holes, finishing with a 71, while Nico Evangelista, Erwin Madrileño, Bonifacio Salahog, Sean Talmadge and Dino Villanueva all matched par 72s.
Three players shared the lead in the Q-School for foreign entries, with Japanese Gen Nagai stumbling at the finish to settle for 70 and drop into a tie with American CJ Lee and Romano Saincic of South Africa.
Nagai, winner of the national amateur championship last year, struggled after an impressive five-birdie splurge after 12 holes, bogeying three of the last six for a 32-38 that enabled Lee and Saincic to gain a piece of the lead.
Unlike Nagai, Lee banked on a strong windup, birdying three of the last eight while Saincic blew hot and cold, opening with an eagle on the par-5 No. 10 and birdying two of the next three.
But he dropped four straight strokes from No. 15 before gunning down two birdies at the front for a 34-36.
The troika seized a two-shot lead over Aussie William Bruyeres, who mixed two birdies against the same number of bogeys for a 72, while Korean Hwang Myung Chal and Venezuelan Rafael Parra matched par 72s.