Clyde Mondilla slowed down in output but stretched his run of impeccable rounds at Forest Hills-Nicklaus with another solid 66, staying way ahead of the pack of seasoned campaigners and a couple of hungry aces halfway through the ICTSI Forest Hills Classic on Wednesday in Antipolo.
While he rued his five straight flubbed putts inside 8 feet from No. 17 and admitted to have failed to execute half of what he did Tuesday, Mondilla said he was more than satisfied to find himself firmly entrenched at the top with a 16-under 126 aggregate at the par-71 rolling course and closer to ending a three-year title drought in the P2 million championship.
“I struggled with my putting and missed five straight birdie chances,” said Mondilla in Filipino. “There was a big gap, difference from my first round 60. But I still liked my position.”
The Del Monte ace actually fashioned out a bogey-free 60 in preferred conditions in the first round and kicked off his second round assault at the back with birdies on Nos. 10, 13 and 16 then gathered himself from a string of missed birdie opportunities by dominating Nos. 6 and 8.
He stressed this marked the third time that he came out of a 36-hole play without a bogey although he added: “But it's been a long time and I can't remember when and where I did those feats.”
But what's sure is he's on top of a stellar field by a big margin and on track on winning again since ruling a five-man playoff in the Philippine Golf Tour Asia leg at Pradera Verde in 2020.
“The course is so tricky and those chasing me are all good and strong players. Sana magtuloy-tuloy lang ang laro ko na walang bogey,” added the former Philippine Open champion.
Albin Engino, still in search for a maiden win in a long PGT campaign, overcame a double bogey on No. 12 with six birdies as he fired a 67 and stayed at second at 131 but Tony Lascuna and Angelo Que, two of the Tour's revered players, made their moves with a pair of 66s to get into attacking position in the last two rounds for a possible crack at the top P360,000 prize.
Lascuna, winner at Caliraya Springs, gunned down seven birdies against two bogeys for a 31-35 and pooled a 132 for solo third to earn a spot in the featured flight in moving day, while Que rattled off six birdies against a bogey to churn out his own version of a five-under card and a 136 total.
Keanu Jahns, also in quest of a PGT breakthrough, shot a 68 for a 137, Ruperto Zaragosa, the runaway winner in Iloilo, carded a 70 for solo sixth at 138, while Bacolod leg champion Ira Alido and Villamor Philippine Masters titlist Jhonnel Ababa matched outputs for the second straight day – 67 – as they shared seventh place at 139 with Dino Villanueva, who carded a 72 after a four-under round in the first day.
Reigning back-to-back The Country Club Invitational winner Guido van der Valk put in a 68 and Russell Bautista matched par 71 for joint 10th at 140 with 33 others advancing to the final two rounds of the seventh leg of this year's circuit.
Lloyd Go and Elmer Salvador matched 75s, Carlos Packing made a 76, Gabriel Manotoc wavered with a 77 and Leandro Bagtas survived a 79 as they tied for 40th at 151 and made the cut.
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