MANILA---Jay Bayron, the unassuming former caddy chasing a Philippine Open dream, fired a second straight three-under-par 69 yesterday to share the lead with Indian Himmat Rai halfway through the 95th edition of the ICTSI-sponsored $300,000 championship at Wack Wack East.
Bayron closed with a missed-green bogey but still surged into a tie at 138 with Rai, who played his final nine at level par for a 70 after grabbing a share of the first-round lead with a 68 Thursday.
“I’ve been dreaming of winning this tournament since I was 13, when I first picked up a golf club,” the 32-year-old Bayron, who used to carry bags at Davao’s Apo Golf course, told the Inquirer in Filipino.
“I just hope to be able to keep it together in the final two days, which I know will be very tough,” added Bayron, who also held the first-round lead in 2008.
Bayron almost holed a wedge from 96 yards on the 15th, settling for the last of his four birdies, before dropping a shot on the 18th.
Summer rules will be in effect starting today, unless foul weather batters the East course again, with all the tee boxes set back to stretch the course length to its limit of 7,222 yards.
Rai, the 24-year-old from New Delhi who is coming off a fifth-place finish in last week’s Asian Tour Developmental Tour event in Malaysia, had four birdies against two bogeys.
“It’s going to be me against the golf course,” Rai said when asked of his game plan for the final two days. “It’s all about managing your own golf game and I’ll be pleased if I get to do that over the next two rounds.”
Diminutive Jbe Kruger of South Africa shot a 68 to tie Berry Henson of the United States (70) and Daisuke Kataoka of Japan (69) at 139.
Panuphol Pittiyarat of Thailand shot a 69 for 140.
Wang Ter-chang, the 1992 champ at Puerto Azul, matched par but fell three shots behind at 141 with Asian Tour veterans Prom Meesawat of Thailand (72)and Digvijay Singh of India (72) another shot further adrift at 142.
Juvic Pagunsan, who celebrated his 32nd birthday by shooting eight birdies in the Pro-Am on Wednesday, rebounded with a 69 and vaulted into a tie for ninth place at 142 with Mars Pucay and five others.
Marvin Dumandan, tied for second with Bayron and Pucay overnight, submitted a 75 for 144 along with 12 others, including 2002 winner and longtime Manila resident Rick Gibson of Canada, who had a 71.
Multiple Asian Tour winner Angelo Que struggled to another 73 and needs a lot of catching up to do from eight shots off.
Several notables failed to make it to the weekend play with Artemio Murakami relinquishing his throne after managing just a 74 for 150, two shots off the cutline pegged at 148.
Former Open winners Robert Pactolerin, Cassius Casas and Gerald Rosales all failed to get under the wire together with rookie teener Miguel Tabuena, who added a 74 to a 78 and missed it by four.
Frankie Miñoza, the charismatic former two-time champion, made the cut on the dot after matching par, even as Thanyakon Khrongpha, the Thai who shared the first-round lead with Rai, ballooned to a 79 and almost failed to make the grade with 147.
Danny Chia, second placer to Que in 2008, skied to a 78 after shooting a 71 on Thursday to also miss the cut at 149.
The International Container Terminal Services, Inc. is the tournament’s main presenter with San Miguel Corp., Globe, Lexus, HSBC, Splash Corp., Ayala Land, Srixon, Ricoh, Blackberry, Inetol, Motorola, Label 5 and Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria as the other backers.