Teemu Putkonen
Finnish toughens up, grabs 3-shot lead with 68
Dante Navarro (The Philippine Star) - April 18, 2019 - 12:00am

TARLAC, Philippines — Foiled in his crack at the lead with a shaky windup Tuesday, Teemu Putkonen produced a solid finish yesterday to not only seize control but also gain a big cushion heading to the final round of the ICTSI Luisita Championship here yesterday.

The Finnish hit three birdies in the last eight holes, including two in the last three from 15 feet, to card a second straight four-under 68 and move past erstwhile leader Guido Van der Valk, now three strokes ahead with a 54-hole aggregate of 10-under 206.

““My driving, irons and short game were simply good,” said Putkonen, who hit a superb 3-wood second shot from 260 yards and drilled an 11-foot putt for eagle on the par-5 No. 5 to spike his opening 35 that featured one birdie against two bogeys. “The wind hardly blew and it wasn’t hot out there.”

He hit another birdie on No. 11 before closing out with birdies on Nos. 16 and 18, moving 18 holes away from finally nailing the dream win.

“I’m not used to making predictions but I’ll just play my game and hopefully I’ll make it (today),” said 30-year-old shotmaker from Jarvenpaa, a 30-minute drive from Helsinki, who tied for 18th at PGT Asia Riviera last month.

Van der Valk, who pounced on Putkonen’s late-hole mishap to wrest the lead after 36 holes behind a fiery backside run of 31, failed to sustain his second-round 65, settling for a four-birdie, four-bogey game for a 72 to drop to second at 209.

The Manila-based shotmaker said he would need to shoot a six-under to earn a shot at the crown, stressing: “A three-stroke lead isn’t safe here but it will still be difficult to catch him (Putkonen).”

A host of others churned out low scores to get into the mix heading to the final 18 holes of the event serving as the kickoff leg of the Philippine Golf Tour Asia third season with Spain’s Marcos Pastor matching Van der Valk’s seven-under card in the second round with a solid 33-32 highlighted by an eagle on No. 16.

Pastor moved to joint third at 210, still four strokes behind Putkonen but gained some momentum.

ICTSI LUISITA CHAMPIONSHIP
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