by Waylon Galvez
STA. ROSA, Laguna – Jerson Balasabas produced an eagle-aided even-par 72 and took a one-shot lead over three fancied players in the opening round of the Don Pocholo Razon Memorial Cup yesterday at The Country Club here.
The 37-year-old native of Zamboanga City hinted of good things to come when he eagled the opening hole – thanks to a solid second shot from 158 yards. He also birdied the third hole that put him at three-under despite strong winds.
He had a roller-coaster showing the rest of the way as he bogeyed the 6th, 15th and 16th and double-bogeyed the 11th when his drive found the bushes and settled for a two-putt.
He recovered a bit with birdies on the 13th and 17th for a one-shot lead over two former champions in Angelo Que and Tony Lascuna and Philippine Open champion Clyde Mondilla.
“Maganda naman tingin ko yung naging performance ko dito sa first round,” said Balasabas, who is looking for his first top 10 finish in this prestigious event.
“Basta sakin tuloy ko lan yung laro ko, kung ako pwedeng ma-improve,” added Balasabas, whose only victory in the Philippine Golf Tour (PGT) came in the Masters in Villamor last year.
Que, who triumphed here in 2008, 2010 and 2011, made just a single birdie on 7. Though he bogeyed on 6, he was still tied with Balasabas going to the final hole which he bogeyed.
Lacuna birdied holes Nos. 3, 8, 10 and 17, but bogeyed Nos. 1, 9 and 18, and a double bogey on 13, while Mondilla had four bogeys – 11, 14, 16 and 17 – against three birdies – 2, 10 and 13.