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Sports

Van der Valk bucks stern test, grabs lead

The Philippine Star
Van der Valk bucks stern test, grabs lead
Guido Van der Valk.
STAR / File

SILANG, Cavite, Philippines — Guido Van der Valk came in unruffled by the winds and took command with a 68 in one of the late flights, grabbing a one-stroke lead over erstwhile leader Fidel Concepcion halfway through the ICTSI Riviera Championship yesterday.

Van der Valk matched Concepcion’s big start that keyed the latter’s first round surge Tuesday but the former bested the latter’s opening 69 with a stronger finish on Langer’s tough finishing holes, birdying Nos. 15 and 16 for a pair of 34s. That fueled the Manila-based Dutchman’s drive for a second championship in this year’s Philippine Golf Tour following a stirring playoff win over Miguel Tabuena at Splendido Taal last May as he moved on top with an even 142 total.

“Good day because this course is difficult for me,” said Van der Valk, short in length but long in talent. “It’s long and windy, the greens are small and have lots of slopes in them, so I’m very happy to hit five birdies against two bogeys.”

The lead changed hands as fast as the wind changed directions in another harsh day here, so wild that amateur Josh Jorge scored a hole-in-one on No. 4 and put himself in strong contention. Club pro Marvin Dumandan got into the mix in a long, long while, and the fancied Juvic Pagunsan recovered from a fumbling start with a run of birdies to salvage a 71 and pull to within four strokes off the lead with 36 holes left in the P2 million championship put up by ICTSI.

“The frontnine was tough, it’s quite windy but I was able to get back at the backnine with a one-under card,” said Concepcion, who held sway despite bogeys on Nos. 3 and 7 before yielding it with a double-bogey on the par-4 ninth after three-putting from 10 feet.

Meanwhile, Rianne Malixi made up for her wobbly finish at nightfall Tuesday with a birdie and a run of pars in the last four holes, breaking away from a crowded leaderboard with a second 73 and moving in the threshold of another title romp on the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour.

Malixi overcame a birdie-less 38 start at the par 35-36 Langer layout with two birdies against a bogey in the last nine holes as she put herself in a very familiar place at the end of another grueling day with a three-stroke cushion over first round leader Mafy Singson and Harmie Constantino with a 146 aggregate.

GUIDO VAN DER VALK

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