Aussie Fredrick Park bucked the rain-softened fairways and greens – and a long delay – with an eagle-2 on No. 12 as he fired a three-under 69 to sneak past local aces Elmer Salvador and Frankie Miñoza at the start of the ICTSI Tournament Players Championship at Wack Wack East yesterday.
A rookie pro who has had a string of mediocre finishes in eight legs on the Asian Development Tour, including a missed cut stint at ADT Aboitiz Invitational here last month, found himself on top of the elite field after that solid shot from 185 yards on the par-4 12th and a birdie on No. 15, finishing the tough backside in three-under.
He actually blew a two-under card after seven holes with back-to-back bogeys from No. 8 coming out of an hour-long rain stoppage but the southpaw fought back with gutsy pars and then came through with that eagle before gunning down two birdies against a bogey in the last three holes.
For a while, early starters Salvador and Miñoza stood atop the leaderboard with a pair of 70s but settled for joint second at the end of the long day in the opener of the R3.5 million championship.
Salvador, gunning for a second victory in the last three legs of this year’s circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc., stumbled with a closing bogey before the downpour halted play.
“I had a good start but struggled from Nos. 8 and 10. When I finally regained my rhythm and bearing, I came up short on No. 18 and made a bogey. Sayang. I could’ve gained a share of the lead,” rued Salvador, who hit three birdies against a bogey in the first four holes, rammed in another birdie on No. 7 to go three-under but bogeyed the next three holes.