CEBU CITY—Nine Filipinos occupied the first 11 spots and the leader was one not many expected to be there after a trying first round in the $65,000 Aboitiz Invitational presented by ICTSI 2011 Wednesday.
Arnold Villacencio, a little-known, long-hitting pro playing out of Lipa City, finished birdie-birdie on a day when bogeys came easy to fire a 1-under-par 69 and take a two-shot lead over Marvin Dumandan at the Asian Development Tour event at the Cebu Country Club course.
Starting on the back nine, which he finished with a bogey for a 36, Villacencio parred the first seven holes coming home before picking up two strokes on the two closing holes.
Former Philippine Open champions Elmer Salvador and Cassius Casas both returned 71s like the veteran Edgar Ababa, Antonio Asistio and defending champion Jay Bayron.
Rookie pro Miguel Tabuena, fresh off a 14th-place finish in Taiwan, fired a 72 like Randy Garalde, Thailand’s Tommy Mansuwan and American Jonathan Moore.
Villacencio capped his round with a pitch to within a foot of the cup on No. 9.
“It’s a short course that fits my game well,” the 42-year-old Villacencio, a former Apo Golf caddy in Davao, said in Filipino.
Bayron, who won last year over Juvic Pagunsan, went birdie-eagle on his first two holes for a 32 before floundering on his final nine with bogeys on five of his first six holes.
Dumandan hit just three greens but gunned down birdies on two of them.
Antonio Lascuña, another favorite, returned a 73 that was marred by five bogeys.
“What he did today was very special—I was in awe,” Lascuña said in Filipino, referring to the numerous up-and-downs that Dumandan churned out. “I hit 13 greens and look at my score.”
Kao Shang-hung of Chinese Taipei, who won the $120,000 Ballantines leg of the ADT back home last week, withdrew after shooting an even-bogey 44 on his first nine.
The leading scores:
(Filipino unless stated)
69—A. Villacencio 33-36; 70—M. Dumandan 33-37; 71—E. Ababa 37-34, C. Casas 36-35, E. Salvador 34-37, A. Asistio 32-39, J, Bayron 32-39; 72—R. Garalde 37-35, T. Mansuwan (Tha) 37-35, J. Moore (US) 37-35, M. Tabuena 35-37; 73—A. Fernando 39-34, A. Engino 38-35, R. Minoza 38-35, M. Docking (US) 37-36, P. San Gabriel 36-37, M. Bibat 36-37, A. Lascuña 36-37, R. Bayron 35-38, J. Ababa 35-38; 74—R. Sinfuego 37-37, E. Rellon 37-37, C. C. Chang (TPE) 37-37, M. Perera (LKA) 37-37, F. Aunzo 36-38.