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4-way jam on top

DASMARIÑAS, Cavite – Clyde Mondilla blazed home with a birdie-par-eagle feat and shot a four-under 68, forcing a four-way tie for the lead with veteran Frankie Miñoza, rookie pro Ira Alido and American John Catlin at the start of the $60,000 ICTSI Orchard Golf Championship at the Orchard’s Player course here yesterday.

Mondilla came out of a roller-coaster round in one of the late flights with a birdie on No. 15 from close range then bucked the wind and eagled the par-5 18th to finish with a 35-33 in a day of mixed fortunes with a number of pre-tournament favorites living up to the hype and a host of others reeling with over-par scores.

It was a big start for Mondilla, who came into the event trying to fight off an early season struggle that saw him miss the cut in the Solaire Philippine Open and the ICTSI Manila Masters. He wound up tied for 21st at Luisita last week.

Earlier, the old and new of Philippine golf sizzled at the front with a flurry of birdies with Miñoza flashing vintage form coming off a missed cut stint at Luisita last week, birdying three of the last six holes, including the last two inside feet.

“The greens are tricky and the wind was really strong,” said Miñoza, who continued to prove he still got what it takes to contend in big-time tournaments after outlasting Miguel Tabuena in a record five-hole playoff in Bacolod last year.

Alido, on the other hand, matched Miñoza’s birdie-birdie finish and closed out with a frontside 32 in a big start for a rookie pro who struggled to finish at 41st place in Tarlac.

“I played a near-perfect game. My putting and short game were simply good,” said Alido, the former national team mainstay who missed an eagle-putt bid from 30 feet off a solid hybrid second shot from 240 yars on the par-5 13th.

Catlin, who has figured prominently on the local tour with strong starts only to falter in the end, was at it again, birdying three of the first five holes at the front before finishing with three more against two bogeys for a 33-35 and a four-way tie for the lead in the 72-hole championship sponsored by ICTSI.

“It’s a long tough course and it’s windy. I was lucky to score in only my second game at Orchard,” said Catlin, 26, referring to his pro-am stint Monday. “Hopefully, I’ll sustain my form or play even better.”

The event, organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc., is backed by BDO, KZG, Custom Clubmakers, Meralco, Sharp, Champion, Summit Mineral Water and PLDT.