2017 CAT Open: 2 eagles send hot Aussie to CAT Open lead

Aussie Andrew Campbell bucks the wind and keeps the age-old trees out of play to seize early control with a 65.

TARLAC – Andrew Campbell didn’t ring a bell with mediocre finishes at Manila Southwoods and Wack Wack. But the big-hitting Australian finally flaunted his driving prowess and came away with a seven-under card that reverberated throughout the quaint Luisita layout here.

The 28-year-old Sydney native eagled two par-5s and birdied the two others as he put in a 65 in windy condition to seize a two-stroke lead over Swede Oskar Arvidsson at the start of the $100,000 CAT (Central Azucarera de Tarlac) Open yesterday.

Campbell bucked the early morning gusts with his power drives and set up the eagle putts with superb iron play – the first from 20 feet out on No. 9 and the other from just about a foot-length on No. 12. He added six birdies that more than made up for his three missed-green bogeys for a 32-33 card.

“I really hit good drives today (yesterday). The fairways were in great shape and I was able to take advantage by placing shots where I wanted them,” said Campbell, who tied for 25th in the PGTA kickoff leg at Southwoods and wound up at joint 57th at Wack Wack two weeks ago.

Solid driving propels Andrew Campbell of Australia to the top of the heap with a 65.

But Arvidsson is just right behind at five-under 67, an impressive output for a player debuting on the region’s newest circuit put up by ICTSI and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.

He rattled off three birdies in a solid backside start at the challenging par-72 layout then the winner of the PGM Kuala Lumpur Championship of the ADT last year rebounded from a bogey mishap on the tricky par-3 No. 2 with a stirring three-birdie binge to close out his round.

The two foreign aces’ early surge also relegated the locals to the background in the circuit the latter have dominated with victories in the first four legs. And it took an unheralded troika of Rolando Marabe Jr., Kris Etter and Benjie Magada to take the cudgels for the hosts with 69s in tougher condition in the afternoon for joint third.

Tony Lascuña, winner of the last PGTA leg at Wack Wack, rebounded from a three-over card after three holes with five birdies and got back into early contention with a 70 in a tie with six others, including PGTA Riviera champion Clyde Mondilla, who sizzled at the back with three birdies but fumbled with bogeys on Nos. 1 and 6 before hitting another birdie on the eighth.

Swede Oskar Arvidsson makes an impressive PGTA debut with a 67

Other two-under par scorers were Singapore’s Choo Tze Huang, Charles Hong, Justin Quiban, Joenard Rates and Gerald Rosales.

Thai Wisut Artjanawat hit four birdies but stumbled with three bogeys for a 71, dropping to joint 13th with Rufino Bayron, Michael Bibat, Paul Echavez, Jelbert Gamolo, Keanu Jahns, Rey Pagunsan, Nilo Salahog, Elmer Salvador, Andreas Gronkvist, also of Sweden, Dutch Guido Van der Valk, and Macedonian Peter Stojonovski.

Zanieboy Gialon aced the 155-yard No. 13 using an 8-iron Callaway Apex and Titleist ball No. 6 but could only churn out a 72, his opening round bid hampered by a double-bogey on par-3 No. 6. Joining him at 25th are Jhonnel Ababa, Ira Alido, Marvin Dumandan, Arnold Villacencio, Aussie Hayden Beard, Thais Natchanon Varapornkittirat and Parama Chansue, Andrew Marshall and Matt Killen of Great Britain, all seven shots off Campbell.

With the course in great shape, the 28-year-old Sydney native made scoring look easy despite windy condition.
“With the nice condition of the course, it was easier to play even against the strong winds in the morning,” said the lanky, pony-tailed Campbell, winner of this year’s Vanuata Golf Open back home.

Tony Lascuña leans on his short game to rebound from a three-over start with a 70.

Ranged against Mhark Fernando and Mars Pucay, Campbell bucked a missed green bogey on No. 3 with birdies in the next two, rammed in another birdie on the seventh before drilling a 20-foot eagle putt on No. 9. He birdied No. 10 to go five-under then hacked a solid 7-iron second shot from 205 yards for a tap-in eagle before trading two birdies with the same number of bogeys, including on No. 17, in the last six holes.

Like Campbell, Lascuña rebounded from a poor start with a big finish. After opening with a double-bogey on No. 2, he dropped another stroke on the next but birdied two of the last four holes at the front then birdied Nos. 10, 12 and 16 to get back into the thick of things.

“It’s nice to be back. It’s still a long way to go but at least I was able to recover fast,” said the multi-titled Lascuña, who missed the cut in the Hong Kong Open last week.

Other backers of the event are Custom Clubmakers, Meralco, Champion, Summit Mineral Water, K&G Golf Apparel, BDO, Sharp, KZG, PLDT and M.Y. Shokai Technology, Inc.