Concepcion storms ahead

SILANG, Cavite — Fidel Concepcion birdied the first two holes then endured a virtual survival test right in the first round to wrest early control in the ICTSI Riviera Championship with a 69 at the Langer course here Tuesday.

While the top guns wilted under punishing conditions at the dreaded par-71 layout, Concepcion held on in a roller-coaster ride midway through and into the finish for a 34-35 round and a two-stroke lead over Anthony Fernando.

He eagled the par-5 10th but double-bogeyed the long par-3 12th then birdied No. 16 to negate a bogey on 9.

Concepcion limped to 32nd in the last Philippine Golf Tour stop at Eagle Ridge-Aoki won by absentee Mike Bibat last July but toughened up on the Asian Development Tour during the lull.

He didn’t have as much success on the Asian Tour farm league with several missed cuts and a best 32nd place finish in the Indo Masters Invitational last June.

But he used the experience to get into a fine start on a course that saw the early rise and fall of the Tour’s revered players.

“I played very well and happy to be able to play Philippine golf again,” said Concepcion, still in pursuit of a maiden championship. “I had led many times but just couldn’t sustain my game.”

Fernando, the former national amateur champion still in the hunt for the elusive pro crown, produced a rare birdie feat on the tough finishing par-4 hole to salvage a 71 and seize solo second as Kuresh Samanodi bogeyed the last two holes and dropped to joint fifth at 73.

Juvic Pagunsan, back home after a Japan Golf Tour stint with Que just last Sunday, rebounded from back-to-back bogeys from 2 with three birdies in the four-hole stretch from No. 4.

But he stumbled with a double-bogey on 10 then made a rare double-par finish on the par-4 11th after twice dumping his wedge shot into the water.

He birdied 15 to salvage a 75 for joint 17th with four others, including former Philippine Open champion Clyde Mondilla, who hardly recovered from a frontside 40 with a lone backside birdie.
Other four-over scorers were Jay Bayron, Arnold Villacencio, and amateur Josh Jorge.

Like Pagunsan, Mondilla birdied 5 but yielded two strokes on the next. He closed out the nine with back-to-back bogeys before birdieing the 10th.

Que failed to make a single birdie in a 78 that dropped him to joint 32nd with Ababa, Ramos, Rufino Bayron, and Art Arbole.

Carlos, the former Order of Merit champion, skied to a 79 for joint 37th with Johnel Bulawit, Dan Cruz and Ivan Monsalve, barely within the group that will advance to the final 36 holes of the P2-million tournament.

Tony Lascuña fought back from back-to-back bogeys from 11 with a birdie on 15 to tie longshot Rico Depilo, who three-putted the last hole, at third with 72 while young Ira Alido shot four birdies against six bogeys for a share of fifth at 73 with John Kier Abdon, club pro Marvin Dumandan, Gerald Rosales and Sumanodi.

Rupert Zaragosa also led the stellar field with a brilliant frontside 33 but made three bogeys and a double bogey at the back to fall to a share of 10th at three-over.

Zanieboy Gialon, the runaway winner at Caliraya Springs, missed joining Lascuna and company at fourth with a double-bogey on Langer’s signature par-3 17th, ending up with a 74 and into the group of Zaragosa, Jun Bernis, Keanu Jahns, Robert Pactolerin, Dino Villanueva and Guido Van der Valk and amateur Edison Tabalin.

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