BACOLOD CITY – Juvic Pagunsan fired a bogey-free 66 to surge ahead by one over a hot-charging James Ryan Lam as Japanese Yudai Suzuki slipped with a 74 in the second round of the rich ICTSI Negros Occidental Classic here yesterday.
With erstwhile leader Suzuki turning from awesome (64) to awful and Jhonnel Ababa throwing away three strokes on the par-5 No. 18 and ending up a 68, the hometown hero took his familiar spot on top with a 36-hole aggregate of eight-under 132 as he kept his game on a competitive level while attending to his ailing wife.
“It’s a day-to-day struggle. Hati pa rin ang focus ko. I just hope to do better in the last two days,” said Pagunsan, who nipped reigning Philippine Golf Tour Order of Merit winner but absentee Jobim Carlos on the second playoff to win this event last year.
But as Suzuki and Ababa fumbled and stumbled in hot conditions, Lam came out of nowhere to assume the challenger’s role at 133, spiking his fiery 64 with seven birdies, including two in the last four at the frontnine.
It was a big surge for Lam, who placed last in Club Filipino de Cebu Invitational and missed the cut in last week’s Bacolod Classic. After an opening 69, the former PGT Asia leg winner at Luisita hit three birdies at the back then picked up strokes on the first two holes at the front. He took his first bogey on the fifth but birdied the sixth and eighth to threaten Pagunsan.
Zanieboy Gialon, winner here in 2012, also moved into contention with a 67, pooling a 135 for joint third with Pete Vilairata of the US, who also shot a three-under card, while Japanese Ryui Hashimoto took over from Suzuki with a 136, also after a 67, in a tie with Nilo Salahog, who also fired a 67, keeping five players within four strokes off the pace with 36 holes to play in the R3 million event sponsored by ICTSI.