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Alido up by two

I targeted the front of the green (No. 18) but came up short. I had a chance to save par from six feet but didn’t make it though

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IRA Alido drives past a slew of rivals to edge closer to a maiden win

Ira Alido took charge with a 73 despite a final-hole bogey, earning a two-stroke lead over erstwhile joint leader Tarik Can of the United States and Thai Nirun Sae Ueng and moving 18 holes away from scoring a breakthrough victory in the Aboitiz Invitational yesterday.

The former amateur hotshot actually looked headed to posting a third straight even par card at the tough Wack Wack East on a big recovery from a bogey-bogey stumble from No. 2 with birdies on Nos. 10 and 14 and a bigger cushion. But he fell short off the 18th green and failed to get up-and-down on a flubbed par-putt from six feet.

But his 38-35 proved enough to shove him past a slew of rivals that kept scrambling for spots atop the leaderboard while trying to buck the buffeting wind that blew from all over, sending the scores soaring and the rest of the bidders tumbling.

“I targeted the front of the green (No. 18) but came up short. I had a chance to save par from six feet but didn’t make it though,” said Alido, whose 217 put him closer to a dream title run in the Philippine Golf Tour Asia (PGTA) event organized by Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Inc.

When asked of his game-plan in the last 18 holes, the 18-year-old sophomore pro said he would still opt for conservative play and “try to limit the bogeys.”

Can, who with Reymon Jaraula broke out of a nine-player tie and shared the lead with a pair of 71s Thursday, failed to check his skid and skied to a 76, his two 38s marred by three bogeys and two double bogeys, mishaps that could easily ruin one’s title bid on a course as exacting as the fabled layout.

But he gunned down three birdies, the last on the par-5 No. 13 that got him back into the thick of things at 219 in a tie with Sae Ueng, whose 74 likewise lined him up for a maiden victory on the region’s emerging circuit put up by ICTSI.

“I have to eliminate these kind of mistakes if I hope to get my first championship on the PGTA,” said Can, who dumped his drive into the water on No. 7, which he birdied in the second round to seize control. He also hit it into the woods on the 10th for his other 6.

Jaraula fared worse than Can with a 77 that was also ruined by two double bogeys and three bogeys against two birdies. But the unheralded but talented shotmaker from Bukidnon dropped just three strokes behind Alido at 220 in the company of former champion Tony Lascuña, American Lexus Keoninh, obscure Rico Depilo and defending champion Damien Jordan of Australia.

Lascuña, out to snap a long title spell on PGT Asia, blew a solid start of back-to-back birdies with bogeys on No. 4 and 15 but came through with a couple of par-saves to salvage a 72 while
Keoninh groped for a birdie-less 74 and Depilo missed grabbing a rare spot at the top with two bogeys and a double bogey in the last five holes.

“I think a closing three-under par will win it,” said Lascuña.

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