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Bayron wrests lead

BACOLOD – Jay Bayron rode on a blistering four-birdie binge coming home at the front to wrest control then bucked a bogey finish with a 66, moving past erstwhile leader Micah Shin of the US and a charging Dutch Guido Van der Valk halfway through the ICTSI Bacolod Golf Challenge at the Bacolod Golf and Country Club in Binitin here yesterday.

Bayron flashed superb iron play and steady putting coming off a bogey-bogey mishap at the back where he teed off, drilling in four straight birdies from No. 3 inside six feet to take charge but missed going 2-up with a second straight bogey on the tough par-4 ninth of the par-70 layout.

“I just got a bit lucky on my second nine and my putting clicked,” said Bayron, who actually pressed his bid early with birdies on Nos. 10, 13 and 16. “But I made poor decisions and was really upset over my bogeys on Nos. 17 and 18.”

Still, the veteran Davaoeño campaigner, the former Asian Development Tour Order of Merit winner who last won at Summit Point last year, recovered big at the front, his closing 32 and 66 shoving him past two foreign rivals with a seven-under 133 heading to the last 36 holes of the P1.5 million event sponsored by ICTSI.

Van der Valk, a regular Philippine Golf Tour campaigner still in search for a breakthrough win, bolstered his bid this time with an impressive 32-33 card spiked by three birdies at the front, catching Shin at 134 after the young American based in Davao slowed down with two birdies against one bogey for a 69 after beating the course – and the elite field – with a 65 Wednesday.

“I struggled with my short game and missed a couple of short putts,” rued Shin, who for a while looked headed for another superb round after hitting two birdies at the front, only to be stymied with flubbed putts at the back, the last resulting to a bogey on No. 16.