Davaoeño Elmer Salvador moved in the threshold of a breakthrough win on the ICTSI-Philippine Golf Tour as he shot a flawless six-under par 66 to wrest a one-stroke lead over Frankie Miñoza and Ferdie Aunzo in the second round of ICTSI Pueblo de Oro Championships at the Pueblo de Oro Golf and Country Club here yesterday.
Salvador, always a contender but never a winner in the first six stages of the revival of the local pro circuit, including three legs last year, rammed in three birdies on each nine to complete a fiery round of 33-33 and surge ahead of the fancied Miñoza and erstwhile joint leaders Ferdie Aunzo, Louie Dacudao and Rolando Marabe.
The soft-spoken Salvador, who finished runner-up at Sherwood and Apo legs late last year and opened his bid here with a 72, pooled a 36-hole aggregate of 138, one ahead of Miñoza and Aunzo heading into the final 18 holes of the P1 million event sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc.
Miñoza remained on course of his bid for the top P200,000 purse, birdying the last three holes for a 69 and a 139, which was later matched by Aunzo, the former national amateur champion who slid to second with a two-under 70.
Like Miñoza, Aunzo rallied with a 32 at the back, overcoming a shaky frontside score of 38 with four birdies as he bounced back into contention on his rookie year.
Artemio Murakami also stayed in contention with a three-under 69, seizing solo fourth with a 140, while Dacudao tumbled down to joint fifth after a 72 but remained in the hunt with a 141, ensuring a final round shootout among the top 10 players.
Richard Sinfuego, also seeking an end to a long title drought, also fired a 69 while Jun Bernis turned in a four-under 68 to tie Dacudao in the event, backed by MJ Carr Golf Management, Pisanti, The Country Club, Srixon, FAMI, Business Mirror, Motorola, Omnisource and Pepsico.
Marabe slipped to solo eighth with a 142 while Cassius Casas, Jay Bayron and Ebarra Quiachon both had even par 144s after a 71 and 72, respectively.
Forty-five players made the cut at 153, including two amateurs in Alexes Nallos (79-150) and Zanie Boy Gialon (73-152).