Jerson Balasabas blasts his way to the lead with a plucky even par card.
Philippine Masters champ paces TCC with 72
Dante Navarro (The Philippine Star) - April 24, 2019 - 12:00am

STA. ROSA, Laguna, Philippines — In a scorching day of floundering finishes at the wind-raked The Country Club, Jerson Balasabas emerged from an early pack with a 72 he spiked with an eagle and capped with a birdie to seize a one-stroke lead over three fancied rivals at the start of the TCC Invitational here yesterday.

The lucky start and a gutsy windup enabled the reigning Philippine Masters champion to grab the spotlight from the best of the best, majority of whom struggled and scrambled at the finish just to survive the early test of will and wits at the exacting Tom Weiskoph-designed layout.

“The strong wind is but a normal thing here but it was super hot out there,” said Balasabas, who gained some edge with an early tee start and a pitch-in eagle on the par-4 No. 1. He went three-under with a birdie on the par-3 third hole but like the rest of the select 30-player field in this P5 million championship, he stumbled on other tricky holes of the long, challenging par-72 layout, specifically on two other par 3s which he bogeyed (No. 6) and double bogeyed (No. 11).

“After hitting the green, it bounced once and rolled into the cup,” said Balasabas, referring to his rare eagle feat on the water-laced opening hole off an 8-iron shot from 158 yards.

He gained a stroke with another birdie on No. 13 but fell off the leaderboard with back-to-back bogeys from No. 15 before moving on top again with that birdie on the 17th to set the pace in the 72-hole championship kicking off the Philippine Golf Tour’s milestone 10th season.

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