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Young Ira Alido shows poise, takes 8-shot lead in ICTSI Riviera


Ira Alido put up a spectacular round rarely seen from a young campaigner twice foiled in his breakthrough drive, firing a solid seven-under 64 to storm away by eight strokes over Zanieboy Gialon and Michael Bibat in the third round of the ICTSI Riviera Championship in Silang, Cavite, Thursday.

While the majority of the bidders groped for form in wet conditions and scrambled just to salvage par, the 19-year-old Alido made it look quite easy taming the dreaded Langer layout, shooting four birdies at the front then running off three straight from No. 15 to produce a 31-33 card.

What was impressive is that Alido, who succumbed to final round pressure twice after leading in the third round, the last in the PGT Asia Tour at Wack Wack last year, finished without a bogey on a course that punishes even the slightest of mistakes.

With a 9-under 204 total, Alido stood eight shots ahead of Gialon and Bibat and 18 holes away from recording his first championship in three years, ironically in the last of two bubble tournaments in new normal. He went winless in 2018-19 with full Philippine Golf Tour calendars.

Bibat, whose second-round rally was cut short by late-hole miscues, finally hit it low but his 66, which featured six birdies in the first 13 holes, could only tie him at 212 with Gialon, who limped with a 73 after a second-round 65.

A two-time PGT winner, Bibat could’ve shot lower but bogeyed the 18th for the second straight day while Gialon sputtered with three bogeys with only a birdie to show in a 36-37 card that paled in comparison to his seven-birdie splurge against a bogey Wednesday.

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Justin Quiban fired a 69 to move to solo fourth but too far behind at 213, nine shots off, while Angelo Que failed to recover from a bogey-bogey start and faltered with a 74. He slipped to joint fifth at 214 with Korean Park Jun Sung, who matched par 71, and Nilo Salahog, who fought back with a 68.

Jobim Carlos likewise faded in moving day, hobbling with a 74 after a 68 as he tumbled to eighth at 215 while Manila-based American Lexus Keoninh turned in a 70 for joint ninth with Rupert Zaragosa, who floundered with a 75, at 216.

Sean Talmadge continued to struggle after crowding the leaders in the first round with a 69 as he made a 75 for a 217 while Tony Lascuña, who ran away with a four-shot victory over Alido and Zaragosa in the ICTSI Riviera Invitational Challenge at Couples three weeks ago, settled for a 71 for a tie with Art Arbole, who shot a 72, at 219.

Just a stroke off Gialon after 36 holes, Alido gained a shared view of the top with a birdie on the first hole then as the erstwhile leader and joint second-running Que struggled, he kept on pounding the course with his big drives, superb iron play, and solid putting, birdieing Nos. 5, 6 and 8 to seize complete control.

He settled for a run of five pars at the back but went to his birdie-binge again from No. 14 to all but settle the outcome of the P2.5 million championship put up by ICTSI and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.

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