Golf Tour

Gialon storms ahead with solid 65 as Bibat wavers

In photo: Zanieboy Gialon

Zanieboy Gialon and Michael Bibat duked it out in an early clash of will in furnace-like conditions in separate flights before the former pounced on a two-shot swing on the last hole to wrest control with a solid 65 at the start of the ICTSI Luisita Championship here yesterday.

Gialon, motivated by a clutch par on the tough No. 17, birdied the closing hole from short range to complete a sterling 31-34 round then watched Bibat hole out with a bogey to pull ahead by one in the P2 million championship serving as the fourth leg of this year’s Philippine Golf Tour.


The final hole mishap blemished an otherwise fine round for the big-hitting Bibat, who nevertheless left the Luisita Golf and Country Club course satisfied with a 66 for solo second after winding up eighth in the last PGT leg at Caliraya Springs.

The Davaoeño shotmaker set the tone for the birdie-blitz at the Robert Trent Jones, Sr.-designed layout three flights ahead of Bibat with a blistering five-under frontside 31. The winner of the inaugural ICTSI Caliraya Springs Championship last year then came away with two more birdies at the back to finish with a 65 he spiked with what he described as a key par on No. 17.

“I told myself that I could just make a par on Luisita’s signature hole (the daunting par-3 17th), I might be able to birdie the 18th and go seven-under,” said Gialon.


He did as he found himself on top of a stellar field while leading the assault on the demanding layout that however yielded 20 under-par scores in the absence of the wind.

Gialon went back home after failing to defend the Caliraya Springs crown with a tied for 12th finish and worked on his short game and putting, producing great results as he missed just a couple of fairways while hitting 15 greens.

“Fairway-green lang in the next three days para tuloy-tuloy,” said Gialon, whose 65 was one stroke short of the course record set by Clyde Mondilla in the winning the Luisita Invitational in 2018.

Bibat also polished his short irons during the break and worked on the mental side for four weeks, saying: “It really helped as I was able to focus on each shot.”

Journeyman Rico Depilo likewise flourished in the heat, joining the low-scoring spree with a 68 for joint third with Marvin Dumandan and Korean Kim Min Seong even as a number of the PGT big guns found the going a lot tougher in the early going of the 72-hole championship organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.

But Frankie Miñoza flashed vintage form as he bucked a frontside 37 with four birdies in the last nine holes, including the last two, as he moved to solo sixth with a 69, a stroke ahead of Jhonnel Ababa, Francis Morilla and Korean Kang Chon Koo, who matched 70s.

Tony Lascuna, who scored an imposing victory at Caliraya Springs after back-to-back runner-up finishes in Bacolod and Iloilo, turned in a three-birdie, two-bogey card for a 71 as he joined the big group of one-under par scorers at 10th, including Ferdie Aunzo, Jay Bayron, Albin Engino, Keanu Jahns, Sean Ramos, Nilo Salahog, Dino Villanueva, Japanese Atsushi Ueda, young Korean Rho Hyun Ho and Bacolod leg winner Ira Alido.

Defending champion Miguel Tabuena birdied two of the last seven holes to save a 72 for a share of 21st with Fidel Concepcion, Mars Pucay, Bonifacio Salahog and young gun Gabriel Manotoc, while Angelo Que and Lloyd Go, who tied for second at Caliraya, posted 73s for joint 27th with Jerson Balasabas, Reymon Jaraula, Rolando Marabe Jr., Richard Sinfuego, Arnold Villacencio, Japanese Gen Nagai, Korean Kim Seong Guk and Iloilo stop runaway winner Rupert Zaragosa.

Mondilla, one of the pre-tournament favorites given his familiarity with the layout which he calls home, blew a frontside 36 with a closing 40 marred by two double bogeys as he tumbled to joint 45th and in danger of missing the Top 40 and ties cut.

Guido van der Valk, back-to-back winner of The Country Club Invitational, also wavered with a 74 for a share of 37th with Art Arbole, Russell Bautista, Elee Bisera and Jobim Carlos.

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