TARLAC – Aussie David Gleeson missed setting a new course record at Luisita but achieved grabbing the lead, his seven-under 65 in super hot condition shoving him past a surprisingly tough Erwin Arcillas in the third round of the $100,000 ICTSI Luisita Championship here yesterday.
A three-putt miscue on the challenging No. 17, caused by his haste to escape the debilitating heat, marred an otherwise solid round that featured four birdies at the front and four in the first four holes at the back. But the 65 proved enough to move the Brisbane native 18 holes away from ending a long title spell.
“It was so hot, I just wanted to take cover from the heat,” said Gleeson, member of the winning team in the World Amateurs at Southwoods in 1996, who despite the late slip still jumped from joint sixth to solo lead at 11-under 205.
But just a stroke behind is Arcillas, the unfancied but gutsy Filipino shotmaker who continued to defy the odds to gain a crack at a breakthrough victory in the kickoff leg of the second Philippine Golf Tour Asia put up by ICTSI.
But Gleeson said he thrives under pressure and the 40-year-old expects to wrap it all up today and nail his first win since winning the Indian Open in 2011.
“I play with my boundaries, I focused on every hole and I don’t relax because there’s always pressure in me. But that’s my game,” said Gleeson, who hit 10 fairways and 15 greens.
While erstwhile leader Rolando Marabe cracked under pressure and skied to a 77, Arcillas stayed in the hunt for the top $17,500 purse, putting a second 69 in three days on a three birdie-binge from No. 3 to pool a 206 in the event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
“I told myself to focus on my game and not mind the game of my rivals. It helped and though I continued to struggle with my long game, my irons, wedge shots and putting clicked,” said Arcillas, whose best finish was fourth at PGT Mt. Malarayat leg in 2005.
But if there’s one player worth watching in the final round, it would be Thai Varantu Rattanaphilboonkil, who turned in a third straight 69 to join the championship flight at 207, just two strokes off Gleeson.
Another Thai, Tawit Polthai, also matched the course mark of 65, a bogey-free 33-32 that put him in joint fourth with Jhonnel Ababa at 209.