American Tarik Can and Reymon Jaraula birdied the tricky par-4 No. 7 on separate flights as they posted two of the tournament-best three one-under 71s and emerged from a packed leaderboard as co-leaders halfway through the Aboitiz Invitational at Wack Wack’s East course.
Can, who mixed six birdies against the same number of bogeys in his very first tournament play at the fabled layout Wednesday, had almost the same roller-coaster outing (two birdies-two bogeys) at the back yesterday. But after a run of pars he rolled in a bending putt from 20 feet on the seventh which Jaraula later matched from a shorter distance as they broke out of a nine-player logjam to wrest control at 143.
“This course is very difficult to play — tall roughs, combined with occasional strong wind made it tougher today (yesterday),” said Can, who had turned in forgettable finishers in his first two tournaments on the Philippine Golf Tour Asia.
“It was a good thing I was steady from tee to green. Hopefully, I can do the same today,” added the bearded shotmaker, who joined the pro ranks right after college at Augusta State.
Jaraula flashed some kind of consistency in taming the dreaded layout, birdying Nos. 2 and 3 for the second straight day then rebounded from a disastrous double-bogey on No. 4 with that late birdie from eight feet to find himself a bewildered co-leader for the first time in a mediocre five-year career.
“I didn’t expect to at least gain a share of the lead. The course is really tough. I just tried to play it safe all the time and avoid being in a difficult position to recover,” said Jaraula, who nevertheless failed to save at least a bogey after an errant drive on No. 4, needing three more shots to reach the green.
Despite Can and Jaraula’s surprise surge, the chase for the top $17,500 remains as tight and unpredictable as ever with at least 11 others within striking distance.