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Nakajima fires 68 in the wind, up by 2

Toru Nakajima watches his tee shot on No. 2. WALTER BOLLOZOS

MORONG, Bataan, Philippines – Toru Nakajima birdied the two par-5s to kick off and close out his solid four-under 68 despite windy condition, wresting the clubhouse lead over Angelo Que at the start of the P3.5 million ICTSI Anvaya Cove Invitational stopped due to darkness at the Anvaya Cove Golf and Sports Club here yesterday.

Nakajima, last to start in the morning group, outgunned Elmer Salvador, American Micah Shin and Korean Kim Jun Sik with a fine display of shotmaking, iron play and putting, drilling in a 26-foot birdie putt on No. 10 where they teed off then gunning down birdies on Nos. 17 and 4 before holing out with another on No. 9 for a two-shot lead over Que, who carded a 70.

He spiked his superb round with saved pars as the Japanese ace served notice of his bid for a first crown since beating Jay Bayron in a playoff for the Wack Wack Championship in 2013 in the country’s premier circuit sponsored by ICTSI.

“The wind was very strong, the strongest I ever experienced here and I’m lucky to have made a sub-par round,” said Nakajima, referring to the flag-bending gusts that blew the early bids of Tony Lascuña (84) and Clyde Mondilla (80) and turned a number of tournament tables upside down.

But the Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. halted play in gathering dusk with 14 flights to complete play at 6:15 a.m. today.

“I played flawless game. My putting, irons and short game were in place. Hopefully, I keep my game the last three rounds,” said Nakajima, who placed third in The Country Club Invitational two weeks ago.

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Que, who also opened his bid for a second Anvaya crown at the back, actually bested Nakajima’s 68 with a five-under card after 12 holes. But just when the 2015 champion thought he had the wind-raked layout all figured out, he stumbled with a bogey-double-bogey windup and slid to second.

Que, who teed off with Frankie Miñoza, Lascuña and unheralded James Dadizon, hit five birdies inside 10 feet but missed the green on No. 8 and hacked an errant approach shot on the par-5 10th that found the water. He finished with a 33-37.

“Sobrang lakas nang hangin parang bagyo. Suerte lang naka-under par ako (The wind was so strong as if there was a storm. I was lucky to have shot under-par),” said Que, a former three-time Asian Tour champion.
The rest of the 112-player field failed to break par, each coming in ruffled by the wind that blew from all over all day.

Michael Bibat, also chasing a second title since 2013 in the circuit backed by KZG, Pacsports, Custom Clubmakers, TaylorMade, Sharp, Champion, Summit Mineral Water, Event Captain, Ping and Pioneer Insurance, went three-under with a birdie and a pitch-in eagle from No. 2 but made two bogeys and a double bogey from No. 7 and posted a one-over card with seven holes to play.

Others at one-over when play was stopped were Jet Mathay and Jay Bayron while Erwin Arcillas, Poland’s Thomas Bosco, Rico Depilo, Randy Garalde and Godofredo Sinfuego had two-under card after 15 holes.

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