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Rates surges past big guns with 66

Diminutive Joenard Rates traded length for accuracy and produced a tournament-best six-under 66 to grab a two-stroke lead over Tony Lascuña and Keanu Jahns as the erstwhile frontrunners faded in the third round of the ICTSI Philippine Masters at the Villamor Golf Club.

Unable to obtain the desired result with his fairway-green approach in the first two days, Rates finally put it all together yesterday, coming away with eight birdies to negate a two-bogey mishap for a 32-34 that fueled his surge from joint 10th to the top of the heap at eight-under 208.

“I didn’t expect to lead but I focused on hitting it on the fairway and then making the most of my approach shots and birdie chances,” said the 5-3 Rates, who moved 18 holes away from snapping a three-year title spell on the Philippine Golf Tour sponsored by ICTSI.

But the very player he beat by three at John Hay in 2014 is right behind as Lascuña bucked poor putting to card a 70 and tie Jahns, who blew an impressive frontside 31 with a closing 39 for a third straight two-under card, at 210, ensuring another tight finish that has marked the last four staging of the circuit where the winner prevailed by just one with Miguel Tabuena nipping South African Mathiam Keyser in a playoff at Luisita.