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Monsalve holds on to 1-shot lead vs Que in ICTSI Philippine Masters

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Monsalve holds on to 1-shot lead vs Que in ICTSI Philippine Masters
Ryan Monsalve (left) and Angelo Que.
Pilipinas Golf

MANILA, Philippines – Ryan Monsalve sputtered in a frontside finish, missing the opportunity to replicate his first-round performance and turning the chase for the ICTSI Villamor Philippine Masters crown into a wild, furious battle.

The rookie pro appeared poise to dominate when he surged to a five-stroke lead over Angelo Que with a five-birdie, one-bogey card after 11 holes at the Villamor Golf Club Thursday. However, a bogey on the fourth hole and a double bogey on the challenging No. 5 allowed his rivals to close the gap. Another mishap on the eighth hole left Monsalve clinging to a shaky lead.

Despite these setbacks, Monsalve managed to grab the lead at four-under 140. But his inability to build a commanding cushion left him vulnerable to an anticipated charge from Que and a mix of contenders heading into the pivotal round of the P2-million championship, the fourth leg of this year’s Philippine Golf Tour.

This set the stage for a high-stakes showdown of strategy, ball control and putting on a challenging, risk-and-reward course.

“I didn’t feel like I played too badly, I just ended up with a bogey and a double bogey,” said Monsalve, reflecting on his costly mistakes on the closing holes.

On the par-3 No. 4, he dumped his tee shot into the greenside bunker and couldn’t get up-and-down. Despite hitting the fairway on the next, his ball landed on a bare lie, sending his approach shot into the bunker, where he needed two shots to escape, resulting in a 6.

Up by five strokes at one point, Monsalve, who marked his professional debut with a fifth-place finish at Apo, acknowledged he wasn’t aware of his lead but he knew he was playing well enough to be somewhere up there.

“I didn’t finish strong, but I believe I still played well mentally,” added Monsalve.

Preparing for the challenging test in the final two rounds, he vowed to give his best and stay composed. “I’ll be competing with some really good players out there. There are expectations, but I don’t want to be overconfident. I’ll just take each shot as it comes and hope for some luck going to the final day,” he said.

Hot on his trail is Que, who posted the day’s best score of 68 amid the sweltering conditions. The three-time Asian Tour winner, aiming to end a five-year title drought, fired five birdies to offset a lone bogey on the water-laced par-3 17th, putting himself in strong contention at 141.

Que, who last won at the 2019 PGT Asia event at Manila Southwoods, has been in top form entering this week’s championship organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments Inc., securing a solo 12th place finish at the All Thailand Partnership Trophy and a tie for ninth at the Phuket Open over the past three weeks.

Following a mediocre first round 73, Que birdied three of the first five holes at the back. A miscue on No. 17 temporarily stalled his charge, but he recovered with birdies on Nos. 1 and 9, posting a pair of 34s to stay in the thick of things.

Unheralded Rico Depilo carded an impressive 70 to move to joint third at 142 with erstwhile leader Hyun Ho Rho, who birdied two of the last six holes at the front to salvage a 75. 

Tony Lascuña and Reymon Jaraula moved into contention at fifth with a pair of 70s for 143s, while Aidric Chan also hobbled with a 75 after a 69, slipping to joint seventh at 144 with Sean Ramos and Daiya Suzuki, who matched par 72s, and Palos Verdes leg winner Lloyd Go, who put in a 73.

Rho, who highlighted his lead-grabbing, bogey-free 67 with a hole-in-one Wednesday, experienced a roller-coaster round this time, hitting four birdies but stumbling with five bogeys and a double bogey to finish with a three-over card.

Chan, meanwhile, lost momentum following a remarkable 69 start, bogeying four of his first 14 holes from the back. Despite recovering with birdies on Nos. 5, 6 and 8, the PGT Q-School topnotcher holed out with a double-bogey for a similar 75.

Lascuña and Jaraula, on the other hand, revived their hopes after identical 73s in the first round with the former shooting four birdies against two bogeys, and the latter posting three birdies against a bogey, forcing a tie for fifth place in the tournament sponsored by ICTSI.

Others who advanced but remained way off the pace include Guido van der Valk (75-146), Rupert Zaragosa (75-147), Clyde Mondilla (71-148), Michael Bibat (77-149), Toru Nakajima (72-149), Dino Villanueva (77-149), Jay Bayron (75-150) and Gerald Rosales (78-150).

Eight players tied at 151, the cutoff score, including defending champion Jhonnel Ababa (76), and former Masters titlist Jerson Balasabas (79), while former Order of Merit winner Elmer Salvador and former leg champion Zanieboy Gialon failed to advance with 152s after 74 and 77, respectively.

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