TARLAC, Philippines — Thai Namchok Tantipokhakul sizzled coming off a two-hour rain delay, hitting three birdies at the front then rebounding from a bogey mishap with back-to-back birdies at the finish to card a five-under 65 and wrest a one-stroke clubhouse lead over obscure Enrico Gallardo at the start of the ICTSI Luisita Championship here yesterday.
Gallardo, a third year pro who tied for 15th in the recent Philippine Golf Tour Asia Qualifying School, put up a solid four-under card after 10 holes but settled for pars the rest of the way to settle for second as the first round of the $100,000 event stretched up to dusk following the long stoppage due to rain and threats of lightning.
Play was stopped due to darkness with at least 10 flights to resume their unfinished rounds early morning today with former Singapore amateur champion Choo Tze Huang poised to grab the lead with a bogey-free five-under card with three holes to play.
Korean Kim Dae Won had a four-under card and Keanu Jahns went three-under after 15 holes while Aussie Fidel Concepcion, Swede Sebastian Hansson and CAT Open champion James Ryan Lam and Mars Pucay all had two-under cards after 15 holes.
Jay Bayron checked a rollercoaster two birdie-two bogey game with three straight birdies from No. 13 but missed moving closer to or catching up with Tantipokhakul with flubbed birdies in the last three holes. He turned in a 36-33, the same nines put in by American Lexus Keoninh while Natthapong Niyomchon blew a solid backside 31 with two bogeys at the front to drop to Bayron’s group.
Tantipokhakul, coming off a joint sixth place effort in the Solaire Philippine Open two weeks ago, flashed superb touch off the mound then bucked the softened fairways with a near-impeccable iron game to produce six birdies against a lone bogey for a 33-34 card under preferred lies rule.