Guido van der Valk scorches Acacia Lakeview with 66 for one-shot lead

Guido van der Valk

Guido van der Valk of The Netherlands.–CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Picking up four shots in his last four holes, Guido van der Valk of The Netherlands on Tuesday carved out a six-under-par 66 for a one-shot lead over four others after the opening round of the P2 million ICTSI Mimosa Plus Championship at the defenseless Mimosa Plus Acacia Lakeview layout in Pampanga.

A total of 29 out of the lean 56-strong field cracked par, with Van der Valk spiking his round with an eagle 3 on No. 16 as the two-time The Country Club champion started out strong and can bookend his Philippine Golf Tour season with wins later this week.

“It’s a course where you create a lot of birdie chances so you sort of need to stay patient because you cannot hole them all even though you think you should. So that’s the key,” said Van der Valk, a long-time Philippine resident who had wife Lorabelle on the bag.

Reymon Jaraula and Nilo Salahog were joined by Japan’s Toru Nakajima and Chinese Taipei’s Cheng Ting-Yu at 67 with Jonel Ababa leading four others with 68s and an eight-man wave that counts former PH Masters champion Jessie Balasabas shooting 69s to be just three behind.

Only the difficult pin placements of the relatively short layout kept the field from totally turning the layout upside down highlighted by the new course record set by the Dutchman.

“Even though it’s short, you have to hit it on the right side (of the holes) because there’s a lot of hazards out there that it’s easy to hit it in if you don’t quite catch the shots,” said Van der Valk, who opened the season with a repeat at The Country Club before going winless since.

“The pins were not that easy. They tried to keep the scoring as controlled as possible, I think.”

Salahog dropped his only shot at No. 3 and had all six of his birdies coming in his last 14 holes, while Jaraula had two eagles in the back nine that rescued him from a 37 in the front for his version of a 67.

Chen, a rookie pro playing in the Philippines for the first time, had eight birdies against three bogeys in a 34-33 effort as the Taiwanese made the most out of a sponsor’s invite to be in the mix right away.

Meanwhile, Mikha Fortuna shot a 65 to open with a four-shot lead over Daniella Uy as the P1 million ladies division fast shaped up as a two-woman race.

Fortuna was bogey-free and Uy simply couldn’t match her torrid play coming home as the duo also had a heyday attacking the course.

“I feel like it’s going to be the approach shots and putting,” said Fortuna when asked of the key to taming the 5,796-yard layout.

Uy, looking to become the only woman to win three legs on tour this season, rued several missed chances in the back nine.

“I couldn’t hit my approaches close and simply couldn’t make birdies,” she said. “The par-5s are reachable and the par-4s are short, so it will all come down to who makes the most number of birdies.”

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Korean Seoyun Kim eagled the par-5 No. 5 and hit two birdies but miscues on Nos. 4 and 8 dropped her to third at 70 while Harmie Constantino, also a two-leg titlist in the season about to end, shot a 71 for joint fourth with Kristine Fleetwood and Koreans Min Yeong Kim and amateur Jiwon Lee.

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