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Bayron, Villaber head Putra team to Thailand

MANILA, Philippines - Top ICTSI bet Rufino Bayron ruled the Putra Cup qualifier despite a four-over 75, Peter Villaber fired a solid one-under par 70 to finish second while Antonio Asistio and reigning national champion Mhark Fernando scrambled with over par rounds to hold off John Kier Abdon for the last berths in the national team.

Bayron faltered with three bogeys and two double bogeys against three birdies at Riviera’s Langer course but had built enough cushion to secure his place in the RP squad competing in the Putra Cup next month in Thailand.

He lorded it over the field with a 108-hole aggregate of 434, four strokes ahead of Villaber, who underscored his readiness for big-time competition by firing a 70 and snatching the runner-up honors from Asistio with a 438.

Asistio, who dominated the Mt. Malarayat stage of the elims conducted by the National Golf Association of the Phils., appeared headed for a big collapse after a 42 at the front. But the veteran campaigner steeled himself up at the back with a 35 and booked the third spot with a 440 after that 77.

Calatagan’s Fernando, who dished out fine form in winning the RP Amateurs at Eastridge last month, also recovered from a poor start, closing out with a 36 for a 75 and a 442 and completing the four-man cast.

Meanwhile, NGAP president and DOTC Secretary Leandro Mendoza expressed hopes of a solid RP showing in the Thailand meet even as he thanked officials of Mt. Malarayat and Riviera for hosting the grueling elims.

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Abdon, just two shots behind the fourth-running Villaber at the start of the final round, struggled with two bogeys at the front and lost three shots in the first five holes at the back. He bounced back with three straight birdies from No. 15 but ran out of holes for a big comeback. He wound up with a 444, two shots behind Fernando.

Bayron, Villaber, Asistio and Fernando will thus spearhead the RP team’s bid in the Putra Cup, also known as the Southeast Asia Golf Team Championships, slated Aug. 18-21 in Thailand.

The 22-year-old Villaber, who joined the ICTSI golf stable last year, is the only first-timer in the national squad but the long-hitting Davaoeño, also the low amateur in the recent ICTSI pro tour in Davao, is raring to prove his worth.

Former RP team mainstay Jhonnel Ababa’s bid also fell short after a 35 as he lost steam with a 39 for a 74 and 450, finishing tied for sixth with fellow Calatagan bet Albin Engino (77) while Miko Alejandro wound up eighth with a 454 after a 73.

Dante Becierra and Dino Villanueva ended up ninth and 10th after identical 77s with 466 and 470, respectively.

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