Ferdie Aunzo
Ferdie Aunzo

Former national champion Ferdie Aunzo came charging home with a three-under par 69 to tie unfancied Louie Dacudao and Rolando Marabe in the lead, one shot ahead of top pick Frankie Miñoza at the start of the ICTSI Pueblo de Oro Championships at the Pueblo de Oro Golf and Country Club here yesterday.

Aunzo, the former amateur hotshot who joined the pro ranks early this year, birdied three of the last five holes in one of the late afternoon flights to catch up with Marabe and Dacudao, two of the least fancied bets in the P1 million event.

Dacudao and Marabe took advantage of an early windless morning tee-off to humble the star-studded field that included Miñoza and Artemio Murakami as the pair tried to make up for their missed cut stints in last week’s ICTSI-Apo Classic in Davao.

Miñoza, taking a break from his busy schedule on the lucrative Japan PGA Tour, made the most of his vacation by gracing the fourth leg of the 10-stage circuit put up by ICTSI and quickly put himself into contention for the top P200,000 purse with a two-under 70 for solo fourth.

Marvin Dumandan, the leading player on the tour backed by MJ Carr Golf Management with one win and a runner-up finish after three legs, birdied Nos. 15 and 16 to shoot a 71 for a share of fifth with Murakami, unheralded Arnold Villavicencio and amateur Alexes Nallos.

Murakami gunned down four birdies against three bogeys but flubbed a couple of birdie putts in the last four holes and settled for a 35-36.

Marabe and Dacudao, who both teed off on No. 10, had contrasting windups but produced the same cards with the former holing out with a bogey for a 34-35 round and the latter closing out with a birdie for a two-shot swing and a share of the lead.

Aunzo, who placed 21st in last week at Apo, also started at the back with a 35 but needed to birdie two of the last three holes at the front to keep abreast with Marabe and Dacudao in the tournament supported by Pisanti, The Country Club, Srixon, FAMI, Business Mirror, Motorola, Omnisource and Pepsico.

Miñoza missed joining the troika at the helm as he bogeyed his finishing hole on No. 9 after coming up with back-to-back birdies from No. 7. He actually had a shaky start of two bogeys in the first six holes at the back but picked up a shot on No. 17 before birdying Nos. 2 and 3.

Erwin Vinluan and Richard Sinfuego matched par 72 for share of ninth.

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