TARLAC – Jobim Carlos wielded hot putter in another scorching day here yesterday, shooting a bogey-free 67 and overhauling Elmer Salvador’s overnight three-stroke lead to seize control by two over Jack Sullivan of Australia midway through the CAT (Central Azucarera de Tarlac) Open.
Carlos, who recalled his fierce form with a 68 start Tuesday after back-to-back struggles in the last two legs of the Philippine Golf Tour, sustained his attack in another good scoring condition at Luisita, producing five birdies inside 12 feet despite a late tee-off to surge ahead of the pack at nine-under 135.
“I played steady throughout and my putting was good,” said Carlos, who actually missed hiking his lead to three with a muffed eight-foot birdie putt on his closing hole at the par-5 ninth.
He stood two strokes ahead of Sullivan, who had earlier grabbed the clubhouse lead at 137, also after a five-under card, in morning play that also saw overnight leader Salvador lose his touch off the mound and on the green – and the lead – with a 73.
Like majority of the contenders, Thai Nirun Sae-ueng tamed the backside with a 32 en route to a 67, catching Salvador at 138 heading to the final 36 holes of the $100,000 event serving as the sixth leg of the second season of the PGA Asia put up by ICTSI.
Jhonnel Ababa made it a three-way tie for third in one of the late flights as the three-time PGT Asia leg winner, including at Forest Hills last July, rallied with a pitch-in eagle on No. 7 and a birdie on the ninth for a 70 to get back into the thick of things.
Korean-American Seungjae Maeng also fired an eagle-spiked 68 to join three others at sixth at 139, including Keanu Jahns, who birdied three of the last seven at the front, James Ryan Lam, who blew a hot four-under card after six holes, also at back, with two bogeys against one more birdie for 69, and Macedonia’s Peter Stojanovski, who rallied with two birdies in the last five holes at the front to card a 70.
American Pete Vilairatana carded a 69 to tie Joenard Rates (70), compatriot Josh Salah (71) and Aussie Tim Stewart (72) at ninth with 140s, five shots behind Carlos, who pressed his bid for another PGT Asia crown after scoring a breakthrough at Riviera last June.
That win spurred Carlos’ surge to the PGT heap where he won two tournaments and turned in a couple of runner-up finishes to emerge this year’s winner of the Order of Merit crown.
But after nailing his second PGT title in Iloilo last August, the former amateur hotshot slowed down in the last two PGT legs, ending up tied for 19th in Cebu and winding up 12th last week here.