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Quiban, Bibat knotted on top as Rates falters in PGT Riviera


Justin Quiban produced a stirring 10-stroke turnaround with a scorching seven-under 65 Wednesday, catching Michael Bibat at the helm in a day of changing fortunes halfway through the rich ICTSI Riviera Challenge at the Aoki course in General Trias, Cavite.

As erstwhile leader Joenard Rates turned from awesome to awful and tumbled to joint sixth with a 76 after a 69, Quiban rebounded from a 75 Tuesday with a barrage of birdies in hot, windy conditions, including three straight to kick start his backside drive.

He did stumble with a couple of bogeys but the two-time champion in PGT Asia at Luisita in 2017 and in PGT Bacolod in 2018 negated them with six more birdies on Nos. 14, 17, 1, 3, 6, and 8 as he found his rhythm and touch lacking in his error-filled opening three-over card to move on top with Bibat at four-under 140.

“I really hit it good compared to yesterday – off the tee, iron and wedge shots,” said Quiban, who tied for fifth and 11th in the two ICTSI Riviera events late last year.

While Quiban banked on a big rebound to fuel his title bid in the P2 million ICTSI-sponsored championship, Bibat played it steady with a second 70 to stay on course of ending a long spell after scoring a breakthrough at Rancho Palos Verdes in 2013.

“Patience is key here. The course is tough with the wind coupled with tough pin positions,” said Bibat, who broke a two-birdie, two-bogey card at the front and took the lead with birdies on Nos. 11, 14 and 16.

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But he bogeyed the treacherous 18th for the second straight day, enabling Quiban to gain a piece of the lead, just a stroke of Richard Sinfuego and Zanieboy Gialon, who assembled 141s after a 66 and 69, respectively.

Miguel Tabuena checked a wobbly backside 37 with two birdies at the front, breaking par 71 and moving to joint fifth at 144. But four shots behind the joint leaders, the former two-time Philippine Open champion and former PGT Order of Merit titlist will need to go low in the last 36 holes to gain a stab at glory in this kickoff tournament of the 2021 season.

While Quiban regained nearly everything to seize control, Rates lost his, including the momentum of his three-birdie feat in the last five holes in the first round. He went without a birdie and made five bogeys in the first 15 holes, gaining a stroke just on the par-5 16th for a 76.

He slipped to 145, now five strokes behind, in the company of Reymon Jaraula (71), Paul Echavez (73), and American Lexus Keoninh, who moved on top at four-under behind a frontside 33 but just as quickly with a closing 40, marred by a triple-bogey 7 on No. 13 for a 73.

Jobim Carlos also fought back with a 70 after a 76 for 146 while Ira Alido, who romped off with a nine-shot triumph in the second Riviera tournament, carded a 73 for 147 in a tie with Rupert Zaragosa (71), Marvin Dumandan (74), Nilo Salahog (75) and Rufino Bayron (76).

Angelo Que hardly recovered with a 73 but safely made the 40-plus ties cut at 149, along with last year’s Riviera leg winner Tony Lascuña, who shot a 74, and Frankie Miñoza, who struggled with a 78, for identical 154s, but former Phl Open champion and 2020 PGT Asia Pradera Verde winner Clyde Mondilal failed to advance with a 78 and 163 for 43rd place.

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Enrico Gallardo (76), Johnny Espares (78) and Korean Lee Sangun (80) tied for 38th at 159 to make the cut.

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