The 35-year-old Filipino traded four birdies against four bogeys on a tough scoring day to hold a one-shot advantage over compatriots Miguel Tabuena and Randy Garalde who shared second place at the Aoki course of the Eagle Ridge Golf and Country Club.
A host of eight players, including Malaysia’s Arie Irawan, American Greg Moss and Nick Redfern of England, were bunched in fourth place after returning with matching 73s to trail by two shots in what is the seventh leg of the Asian Development Tour (ADT) schedule this season.
Local hotshots Antonio Lascuna (74) and Angelo Que (77) sit in tied-12th and tied-45th positions respectively at the ICTSI Eagle Ridge Invitational.
With the swirling wind speed of up to 26 kph, Tabuena stood tall amidst the gusty conditions to stay one shot off the pace.
“It has been a while since I last played in this kind of windy conditions. I was expecting some low scores today but it was just too windy out there,” said the 20-year-old Tabuena.
“The game is feeling good actually, especially having won a local tournament last month. I’m playing with good confidence right now. Looking forward to a better round tomorrow,” added Tabuena.
Arie, placed second on the current Order of Merit, put up a brave act under testing conditions to place himself in the mix.
“It’s very tough out there. The wind was really strong this morning. I kept my ball in play and rely on my short game which is important,” said Arie, who mixed his card with two birdies against two bogeys and a double-bogey.
“If it is not so windy out there, a lot of players will easily shoot under-par. The wind determines what the scores will be on this course,” added the 24-year-old Malaysian, who claimed his breakthrough win on the ADT at the season-opening event in January.
The ICTSI Eagle Ridge Invitational is one of the two tournaments title-sponsored by the International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI) in the Philippines on the ADT schedule this season.
The ICTSI will also title-sponsor the US$60,000 ICTSI Sherwood Hills Classic slated to tee off at the Sherwood Hills Golf Club from April 22 to 25 next week.
The ADT will reward the top-five finishers on the Order of Merit at the end of this season with Asian Tour cards for 2016.
With the Olympic Games looming in 2016 where golf will be reintroduced as a medal sport, players in the region could earn their spots in Rio de Janeiro by earning Official World Golf Ranking points through the Asian Tour and ADT.
For more information on the ADT, please visit www.asiandevelopmenttour.com
Leading first round scores
71 – Ferdinand AUNZO (PHI)
72 – Miguel TABUENA (PHI), Randy GARALDE (PHI)
73 – Greg MOSS (USA), Nick REDFERN (ENG), Arie IRAWAN (MAS), Anthony FERNANDO (PHI), CJ STJARNFALT (SWE), Gerald ROSALES (PHI), Sejun YOON (USA), Rolando MARABE (PHI)
74 – Kris ETTER (PHI), Mitchell SLORACH (SIN), Reynaldo PAGUNSAN (PHI), Dante BIECERRA (PHI), Michael BIBAT (PHI), Janne KASKE (FIN), Elmer SALVADOR (PHI), Jay BAYRON (PHI), Kevin MARQUES (AUS), ELMER SABAN (PHI), Gyeongjun LEE (KOR), Micah Lauren SHIN (USA), Marvin DUMANDAN (PHI), Antonio LASCUNA (PHI), John-Kier ABDON (PHI)