Solid wedge shots and putting propel Makoto Iwasaki past Michael Bibat.
Japanese charges past Michael Bibat with 64
Dante Navarro (The Philippine Star) - June 27, 2019 - 12:00am

ILOILO, Philippines — Coming off a missed cut and an abbreviated stint in Bacolod the past two weeks, Makoto Iwasaki put in a solid round that shouldn’t only merit him a spot in the last two rounds of the ICTSI Iloilo Golf Challenge but also a crack at the championship.

Defying windy conditions and tricky greens, Iwasaki birdied two of the last five holes to complete a bogey-free 64 and dislodge Michael Bibat off the leaderboard at the start of the P3 million event here yesterday.

“It was a perfect game,” said Iwasaki, himself a bit surprised over his performance on a par-70 course he hasn’t played before but mastered with superb iron game and putting. He hit three birdies from long range from No. 3 in one of the late flights, added another on the ninth then capped his pair of 32s with birdies on Nos. 14 and 16 in overcast skies that saw 22 players break par and seven others turn in even par 70s.

“The greens are hard to read. You have to be cautious here since a slight mistake could lead you to trouble,” said the 29-year-old campaigner from Chiba, whose 64 however fell two strokes off absentee and last year’s champion Jobim Carlos’ record card in the third round.

Juvic Pagunsan came out virtually cold while playing pressure-free after scoring back-to-back title romps in hometown Bacolod but remained a threat at 69 along with the one-under par scores of Joenard Rates, Jhonnel Ababa, Art Arbole, Paul Echavez, Albin Engino, Rene Menor, JR Salahog, Colombia’s Mateo Gomez, Spain’s Marcos Pastor and Yudai Suzuki of Japan.

Bibat appeared headed to grabbing the first day honors in the 72-hole championship put up by ICTSI as he overcame a bogey start and a shaky finish with a pair of birdie binges for a 65 until Iwasaki came in with that five-under card.

The former Asian Games bronze medalist, who tied for second at Club Filipino de Cebu Invitational but struggled to finish joint 10th and 26th in Binitin and Marapara, fumbled with a bogey on No. 10 where he teed off. But he strung up four straight birdies from No. 11.                                          

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