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Jhonnel Ababa, Nicolas Paez wrest control as leaders falter

LUBAO, Pampanga, Philippines — Jhonnel Ababa recalled his fierce form and shot a bogey-free 68 to tie American Nicolas Paez at the helm as two of the erstwhile leaders melted in the heat at the finish halfway through the ICTSI Pradera Verde Classic here.

Sustaining his backside charge in the first round where he gunned down two birdies to save a 71, Ababa hit three birdies in the same side yesterday then added a birdie on No. 5 while rescuing a couple of pars to preserve a spotless 35-33 card at the long Pradera Verde Golf and Country Club layout.

Nicolas Paez. Philippine Star
That kept the Davaoeño shotmaker on track for a second straight crown on the Philippine Golf Tour Asia after scoring a runaway seven-stroke triumph at Eagle Ridge last week as he pooled a five-under 139, the same aggregate assembled by Paez, who endured steamy condition to string a four-birdie, two-bogey card for a 70.

Rufino Bayron and Aussie David Gleeson, who shared the first round lead with Andrew Campbell, also of Australia, and Lexus Keoninh of the US with 68s Wednesday, actually held sway majority of the way with the former even coming through with an eagle on the par-5 No. 12 to negate a bogey on the 11th. But after hitting another birdie on No. 15, Bayron wavered and closed out the frontside with a horrible 40, marred by a double-bogey on No. 5 and a bogey on the closing par-5 ninth.

He wound up with a 74 and tumbled to joint sixth with Gleeson, who fell with three closing bogeys at the front, and PGTA Riviera leg winner Clyde Mondilla, who carded a second 71, at 142, now three strokes off the new joint leaders heading to the last 36 holes of the $100,000 event serving as the seventh leg of the Philippine Golf Tour Asia.

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