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Rates, Carlos keep Masters lead

Joenard Rates and Jobim Carlos matched birdie-birdie finishes on opposite nines for 71s as they kept their share of the lead, one stroke ahead of erstwhile co-leader Jerson Balasabas halfway through R3 million ICTSI Villamor Philippine Masters at the Villamor Golf Club yesterday.

The diminutive Rates turned from erratic to splendid, rebounding from a three-over card after seven holes with four birdies in the next six, including three straight from No. 11. He then recovered from a double-bogey mishap on No. 16 with closing birdies to save a 38-33 card on a tight layout that puts premium on driving.

In a separate flight at the back, Carlos also struggled with three bogeys against two birdies but the recent winner of the National Pro-am with DJ Padilla gunned down a second straight birdie on No. 4 and holed out with back-to-back birdies to negate a bogey on the par-3 seventh for a 34-37.

With 138 aggregates, the duo stayed on top for the second straight day but braced for a spirited charge from the rest of their pursuers in the last two rounds of the 72-hole championship sponsored by ICTSI, including Balasabas, who struggled off the mound and missed keeping his spot at the top with a last-hole mishap on No. 9 for a 72 and a 139.

“I have to find a way to be consistent off the tee. Made bad drives, especially at the back and the wind later affected my game in the last nine,” said Carlos, who with the rest of the surviving 44-player field headed straight to the range to tinker with their driving.

“I missed a lot of my tee shots but my putting worked so I’m still at it,” said Balasabas, who vowed to strike back in today’s third round, particularly on the par-5 holes.

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