BACOLOD CITY – Justin Quiban drove through the tight Binitin course with clockwork precision, shooting a six-under 64 and wresting a huge four-stroke lead over erstwhile leader Nilo Salahog halfway through the ICTSI Bacolod Golf Challenge here yesterday.
While majority opted to use their 3-wood or long irons off the tee, Quiban continued to lean on his trusted driver and superb putting to turn in another superb round, spiked by four birdies against a bogey at the back and capped by three birdies in his closing side at the front.
“I’ve been on-point with my tee shots since the first round and that I believe is my edge,” said Quiban, who pooled a 10-under 130 at the tree-lined par-70 Bacolod Golf and Country Club.
“On a very tight course like this one, it’s all about precision over power.”
After hitting a pair of eight-footers for birdies on Nos. 11 and 12, Quiban hit one bad drive that went out-of-bounds on par-4 No. 13 but salvaged a bogey then resumed his birdie binge on Nos. 14, 15 and 1 before holing out with back-to-back feats.
“My chances are very good but I have to keep what I’ve been doing the first two days, making exceptional drives to go with impeccable putting,” said Quiban, who went on a slump after scoring a breakthrough win at Philippine Golf Tour Asia at Luisita last December.
Salahog, who upstaged the stellar field with a lead-grabbing 65 Wednesday, stumbled with a bogey on No. 2 but fought back with four birdies in a nine-hole stretch from No. 5 to keep Quiban within sight.
Two bogeys in the last five holes, however, stalled his charge, his 69 dropping him to a five-way tie for second at 134.
They include two of the tournament’s most feared names as Jobim Carlos rebounded from a mediocre 70 with a solid 64 while Jay Bayron, the PGTA winner at Southwoods last month, turned in a second straight 67.