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Mondilla up by 2 in Negros

BACOLOD – Clyde Mondilla matched his opening round 65 in solid fashion to hold off a charging Miguel Tabuena and wrest a two-stroke lead over Jay Bayron and Dutch Guido Van der Valk halfway through the ICTSI Negros Occidental Classic at the Negros Occidental Golf and Country Club here.

Out to resume his winning ways and redeem himself from back-to-back mediocre finishes at Forest Hills and Binitin, Mondilla leaned on a fiery finish at the front to turn in a bogey-free 31-34 card in another torrid scoring at the short, tight layout which continued to receive a beating from the elite field with 29 breaking par.

With a 10-under 130 aggregate, Mondilla stormed past a fading erstwhile solo leader Rufino Bayron and co-joint second placers Jay Bayron and Van der Valk and moved 36 holes away from nailing his third leg victory after nipping rookie pro Jobim Carlos in a playoff at Eastridge and dominating the field in Calatagan last May.

After a bogey start Wednesday, the 23-year-old Mondilla strung up 10 birdies, including five yesterday he spiked with birdies on Nos. 1, 2, 5 and 6.

Van der Valk, also out on a mission after losing to Lascuña in a three-man playoff in Binitin, missed grabbing solo second with a bogey on the 17th, settling for a 67 which Jay Bayron matched with a bogey-free 34-33 for 132s.

Micah Shin of the US, the other losing player last weekend, also stayed in the hunt with a flawless 67, joining a surging Tabuena at fourth at 133.

Tabuena, who failed to flash his attacking kind of game with a 69 in the first round, finally got what he wanted, gunning down three birdies on both nines to put in a solid 64 that likewise put the Olympic-bound ace into title contention in the R1.5 million event sponsored by ICTSI.

“I just wanted myself to have decent looks for birdies. I’m not afraid to pull my driver and rip it,” said Tabuena.

“I know when I drive it well, I’ll post a low score. Just wanted my presence felt on top of the leaderboard.”

Rookie pro Justin Quiban fired a 66 to join Cassius Casas, who carded a 68, and Zanieboy Gialon, who turned in a 69, at sixth at 134, four strokes off Mondilla heading to the last 36 holes of what promises to be a shootout among the fancied players in the fold.

Frankie Miñoza also flashed vintage form and shot a bogey-free 65 to stay in the hunt at 135 in a tie with Benjie Magada.