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O’Toole grabs lead with closing birdies

TARLAC – American John Michael O’Toole birdied three of the final four holes to take a two-shot lead over Mathiam Keyser of South Africa going into the final round of the $60,000 ICTSI Luisita Championship here yesterday.

O’Toole shot a five-under par 67 in the third round to climb on top of the leaderboard at 12-under at the Luisita Golf and Country Club.

Keyser was at 10-under following a 69 while Tony Lascuna and American John Catlin were at 8-under after a 71 and 69, respectively.

“I had no problem with my game today (yesterday). My putting was terribly good,” said O’Toole, who made his closing birdies inside 10 feet.

Lascuña, who started the day a shot behind halfway leader Micah Shin, made the turn at two-under before fading with one bogey and eight pars coming home.

“I missed several birdie putts. Now, I have to score a 6-under to defend my crown,” said Lascuña who won by four shots over Korean Park Jun Hyeok by four here last year.

Jhonnel Ababa followed up his second round 68 with a 69 to move to joint sixth with Munson, who matched par 72, at 209 while Elmer Salvador birdied four of the last eight to fire a 68 and wrest solo seventh at 210, six shots behind the new leader from Pinson, Alabama.

Shin, seeking to make it two-in-row here after ruling the CAT (Central Azucarera de Tarlac) Open last September, struggled early, bogeying two of the first three holes to yield the lead.

The reed-thin Korean-American did fight back with three birdies in a seven-hole stretch from No. 9 only to blow it all with a bogey-double-bogey-bogey finish.

He ended up with a 75 and fell to a share of eighth at 211 with Miguel Tabuena and Jobim Carlos, who shot identical 69s, and Japanese Toru Nakajima, who carded a second straight 70.

“I played awful. My driving, iron game and putting are not so good. I’m finished,” said a dejected Shin, who beat Lascuña by two to win the CAT Open.

Tabuena, who recovered from a poor 73 start with a 69, headed for another over-round after 11 holes but hit two birdies in the next three then eagled the par-5 16th to turn in a 36-33.