Gutsy Dutchman bucks winds, wrong ball for 68, 2-shot edge

Gutsy Dutchman bucks winds, wrong ball for 68, 2-shot edge

Guido Van der Valk studies his line of putt on No. 12. Joey Mendoza

STA. ROSA, Laguna, Philippines —Dutch Guido Van der Valk bucked the wind, a strong field and a two-stroke penalty for hitting a wrong ball as he put in an impressive four-under 68 to grab a two-shot lead over Keanu Jahns at the start of The Country Club Invitational at the windy TCC course here yesterday.

Van der Valk, many times a contender but never a winner in his long stint on the local circuit, flashed solid driving and iron shots and superb putting, birdying all but one of the four par-5s and added three more, including the difficult par-4 18th that highlighted his 34-34 card in blustery condition.

He completely outplayed the long-hitting Orlan Sumcad in their duel and outshone the rest of the 14 other pairs that included the cream of the local pro crop and three other foreign aces vying in the P5 million event kicking off this year’s Philippine Golf Tour, the Ladies PGT and PGT Asia.

“I played really good, almost,” said Van der Valk, ruing his double-bogey from a two-stroke penalty after accidentally hitting Sumcad’s ball from almost the same spot for his approach shot on the par-4 No. 15. He made a re-hit and two-putted for 6.

But he made up for the miscue with that big birdie finish for a two-shot cushion that, however, could vanish in an instant given the condition at the Tom Weiskoph-designed layout with three rounds left in the P5 million event put up by ICTSI president and chairman Ricky Razon in 2003 to honor the memory of his father and ICTSI founder Don Pocholo.

“The last birdie was just a perfect way to end the day. In fact, any birdie is important, especially on a very demanding course as TCC,” said Van der Valk, who placed second to Elmer Salvador in the Philippine Open at Mt. Malarayat in 2009 and last won in 2011 on the Asian Development Tour.