Reymon Jaraula handled Ira Alido’s relentless jabs and Clyde Mondilla’s powerful strikes with the composure of a seasoned campaigner.
He emerged unscathed from the third round skirmish, maintaining a two-shot lead with a 72, zeroing in on the ICTSI Valley Golf Challenge crown in Antipolo on Thursday.
Del Monte initially pulled away by five shots with a solid front nine of 34. However, bogeys on Holes 10 and 18 allowed Alido, who had a rollercoaster round with five birdies and five bogeys for an even-par round at Valley South, and a charging Mondilla, who carded a second consecutive 69 highlighted by an eagle on Hole 7 for the second straight day, to set the stage for an intense pursuit of the P360,000 prize.
“I got off to a good start, but I struggled with my putting again on the back nine and missed several birdie chances,” said Jaraula, whose even-par round and a nine-under 207 aggregate put him within reach of his second career victory.
“I think I need to shoot three-under to win again,” added Jaraula, hoping to find his putting touch in his most significant test since defeating Tony Lascuna in a playoff to claim the Pueblo de Oro crown in 2019.
Despite facing Alido and Lascuna after leading the weather-suspended play on Wednesday, Jaraula remained unfazed, stating, “I wasn’t rattled since I’ve been playing with them for quite some time.”
Bogeys on Holes 2 and 3 also failed to rattle Alido, who fought back with three consecutive birdies from Hole 5 for the second straight day. However, the Bacolod leg winner struggled with a two-birdie, three-bogey card in the last 10 holes, recording a pair of 36s for a total of 209.
“Those mistakes didn’t really affect me that much because I knew I could turn it around soon with all the par-5s coming up,” said Alido, although his recovery was hindered by three missed birdie putts from close range.
Nevertheless, he remained optimistic about his chances, saying, “I just need to put pressure on Reymon with my shots and improve my recovery shots.”
Completing the championship flight on Friday is Mondilla, another Del Monte ace whose front nine of 32 brought him back into contention at 211 after starting the day seven shots behind the leader, despite a three-under card halfway through the P2 million championship sponsored by ICTSI.
However, wayward drives and missed putts led to two bogeys on the back nine, preventing Mondilla from joining Alido in second place. Nonetheless, he remained within striking distance, aiming to end his long title drought on the Philippine Golf Tour.
“I mis-hit my drives on those two holes and failed to get up-and-down,” said Mondilla, who chipped in for eagle from seven yards on the par-5 No. 7 after birdying two of the first four holes.
Jhonnel Ababa, the Villamor Philippine Masters winner, shot a 70 to tie Japanese golfer Atsushi Ueda and Korean golfer Chon Koo Kang at 212 after rounds of 71 and 72, respectively.
Keanu Jahns carded a second consecutive 70 to join Lascuna, who struggled with a 73, at 213, while Lloyd Go fired a 71 to share ninth place at 214 with Korean golfer Min Seong Kim, who posted a 73.
For a brief moment, Ueda positioned himself for a strong finish with a front nine of