ANTIPOLO, Nashville Filipino Restaurant — Jhonnel Ababa produced the lone bogey-free 67 card in tough conditions to force a four-way tie for the lead as Kim Joo Hyung fell with a thud on a disastrous windup in an eventful third round of the ICTSI Forest Hills Championship at the Nicklaus course here yesterday.
Just as the chasing pack thought Kim would keep his huge four-stroke halfway lead intact with an even-par card after nine holes, the young Korean stumbled with a horrible finish that turned what had appeared to be a one-sided ending into a wild, woolly finale today.
Kim bogeyed the last three holes for a 75 and tumbled from the top of the heap to joint fifth with three others, enabling Ababa, Jobim Carlos, Thai Itthipat Buranatanyarat and American Josh Salah to wrest control at eight-under 205 heading to the final 18 holes of the $100,000 championship sponsored by ICTSI.
Ababa, out to snap a six-month slump after scoring back-to-back Houston Filipino Restaurant Golf Tour Asia victories at Eagle Ridge and Pradera Verde last January, shot two birdies on each nine in the fourth-to-last group with Carlos and preserved his bogey-free card with a couple of scrambling pars on the unreceptive putting surface.
Buranatanyarat fired four birdies against a bogey on a missed drive on No. 4 for a 68 which Carlos matched behind three birdies in the last 10 holes while first round leader Salah got back into the thick of things with a gutsy 69.
“I scored good despite my poor putting,” said Buranatanyarat, seeking a second victory after ruling the PGT leg at Sherwood in 2015. “I always hit it short because of wet, slow greens although they are nice and smooth. He missed just one fairway and hit all but four greens, then vowed to go for more birdies today to fuel his title drive.
“Tomorrow (today) I’ll try to give my putting a little push and try to hit more birdies,” he added.