Playing in a big tournament for the first time in a year on a course that demands nothing less than perfection, Michael Bibat on Tuesday was flawless in firing a four-under-par 68 to take a one-shot lead over the fancied Miguel Tabuena after the opening round of the P2-million ICTSI Luisita Championship in Tarlac.
Bibat gunned down three of his four birdies in the back nine and was the only one to play the majestic Robert Trent Jones-designed gem bogey-free, doing it under stifling heat and without the benefit of competitive play because of the pandemic.
“I just tried to keep the ball in play every time,” Bibat said as he chases his second pro title since ruling the Pueblo de Oro leg in 2013. “It’s going to be the same game plan for me from [the second round onwards].”
Tabuena, who won the 2015 Philippine Open at Luisita, bogeyed two of his first three holes but played the last 14 at five-under for a 36-33, justifying his tag as the man to beat even as veterans Jonel Ababa and Nilo Salahog and rookie Sean Ramos fired 71s to be three off the pace.
Antonio Lascuña was birdie-less in carding a 74, the same output returned by the legendary Frankie Miñoza, with Clyde Mondilla leading a three-man pack that returned 72s to be four shots behind.
Meanwhile, Chanelle Avaricio birdied three of her last seven holes to post a 70 and take a one-shot lead in the 54-hole ladies championship that also teed off on Tuesday.
Princess Superal and ace amateur Rianne Malixi carded 71s. INQ
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