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PGT: Fidel Concepcion back in control as Van der Valk falters at Riviera


Fidel Concepcion fought Guido Van der Valk shot-for-shot and putt-for-putt and traded miscues-for-miscues in a highly-charged battle for control on another blustery day at Langer in Silang, Cavite then regained the lead as the Dutch fumbled with two closing bogeys in the third round of the ICTSI Riviera Championship on Thursday.

Concepcion failed to shake off a steady Van der Valk majority of the way and even fell by as many as three shots down before finding his touch and rhythm in the stretch, birdying Nos. 13 and 15 for a 71 then parlaying Van der Valk’s bogeys on Nos. 17 and 18 and a 73 into a one-stroke lead at 214.

It was an unlikely foldup for Van der Valk, who rose from every stumble in a day of changing fortunes that saw him churn out a four-birdie card to negate the same number of miscues after 15 holes. But his late meltdown enabled the first-round leader to zero in on his first Philippine Golf Tour championship.

Van der Valk slipped to second at 215 but is still within sight of a second PGT win this year after rallying from behind and nipping Miguel Tabuena in sudden death to snare the Splendido Taal crown last May.

“It’s pretty simple golf. It’s easy to make bogeys here at Langer, so it’s important to stay to my strengths,” said Concepcion, who moved 18 holes away from joining the elite circle of winners in the Pilipinas Golf Tournaments. Inc.-organized circuit.

Like Concepcion, Van der Valk concedes that making bogeys at the treacherous layout is quite like a norm, saying: “I played good until the end, bogeying the last two.”

But he remains upbeat about his title chances, adding: “I’ll just try to hit as many good shots so you get easy pars because they’re not easy on this course.”

Rico Depilo, however, could be the week’s biggest surprise as the journeyman turned in one of the day’s three best scores of 70 to seize solo third at 216, just two strokes off Concepcion, guaranteeing a wild, fierce chase for the top P360,000 purse in this penultimate leg of this year’s six-stage Philippine Golf Tour.

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Zanieboy Gialon and Ira Alido also put in a pair of stirring finishes to fan their respective title bids with the duo standing just three strokes off Concepcion.

Gialon, who routed the field at Caliraya Springs last April but struggled to joint 25th at Splendido Taal then posted a joint sixth place effort at Eagle Ridge-Aoki, caught fire in the last eight holes, turning a three-over card after 11 holes to a one-under 70 on a four-birdie splurge on Nos. 11, 13, 14 and 16.

He improved from joint ninth to a share of fourth at 217 with Alido, who birdied three of the last 10 holes to likewise rescue a one-under card and spark hopes for a repeat of his breakaway breakthrough feat in bubble setup here in 2020.

But no lead is safe at Langer, where a number of title bids were blown and a string of surprises were produced, giving the likes of Juvic Pagunsan and Tony Lascuna clear shots for the crown in the ICTSI-sponsored tournament.

Pagunsan birdied the par-3 17th to save a 72 for solo sixth at 218 while Lascuna shot a second straight 74 for a 220 with Rupert Zaragosa, who carded a 74, at 221, Orlan Sumcad at 222 after a 74, and Angelo Que at 223 in a tie with Richard Sinfuego after matching 73s.

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