Juvic Pagunsan
Pagunsan takes lead with another 66
Dante Navarro (The Philippine Star) - June 21, 2019 - 12:00am

BACOLOD , Philippines  —   Switching focus between tasks that require different demands, Juvic Pagunsan did well on both, securing the halfway lead in the ICTSI Negros Occidental Classic and keeping tab on his indisposed wife.

Pagunsan birdied the first two holes in an early start but slowed down with a run of pars although his other birdies on Nos. 9 and 15 netted him a second straight 66 and a one-stroke lead over a fast-charging James Ryan Lam as he stayed on track for back-to-back championships in this P3 million event put up by ICTSI.

As erstwhile leader Yudai Suzuki turned from awesome (64) to awful (74) and Jhonnel Ababa threw away three strokes on the par-5 No. 18 and ended up with a 68, the hometown hero took his familiar spot on top with a 36-hole aggregate of eight-under 132 as he kept his game on a competitive level despite being hobbled by personal woes.

“It’s a day-to-day struggle. Hati pa rin ang focus ko. I just hope to do better in the last two days,” said Pagunsan, who nipped reigning Philippine Golf Tour Order of Merit winner but absentee Jobim Carlos on the second playoff to win this event last year.

He still rued the lack of rest but hopeful that things will fall into place in the last two days of the event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.

“My goal is to hit the fairways and greens and make the most of my (birdie) chances,” added Pagunsan. “I still haven’t had enough rest since I had to rush back home and take care of my wife.”  

He did not elaborate.

But as Suzuki and Ababa fumbled and stumbled in hot conditions, Lam came out of nowhere to assume the challenger’s role at 133, spiking his fiery 64 with seven birdies, including two in the last four at the front. 

Zanieboy Gialon, winner here in 2012, also moved into contention with a 67, pooling a 135 for joint third with Pete Vilairata of the US, who also shot a three-under card, while Japanese Ryui Hashimoto took over from Suzuki with a 136, also after a 67, in a tie with Nilo Salahog, who also fired a 67, keeping five players within four strokes off the pace with 36 holes to play in the P3 million event.

Jay Bayron and Gerald Rosales fired identical 67s to join the big group at 138, who included Englishman George Twyman (68), Michael Bibat, Aussie David Gleeson and Japanese Kei Matsuoka, who all carded 69s, Richard Sinfuego and Cebu leg winner Guido Van der Valk, who groped for similar 72s, and Suzuki.

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