ANTIPOLO – Mars Pucay outgunned Elmer Salvador and the hot-starting Artemio Murakami in their backnine shootout and fired a two-under par 70, finally snapping a long title drought on the local tour with a two-shot victory in the ICTSI Forest Hills Championship at the Forest Hills Golf Club here, May 28.
Pucay, tied with Salvador and four ahead of Murakami at the start of the final round, fell behind by one at the turn but pounced on Murakami and Salvador’s double-bogey mishaps on No. 12 for a crucial two-shot swing. He birdied the next to sit on a two-stroke cushion and went on to essay the two-stroke victory.
He pooled a seven-under 209 and took home the top P200,000 purse in a victory that ended a long title spell on the local circuit.
“I really can’t remember when I last won here but I’ve been waiting for this (win). I’m sure it will boost my confidence for the Asian Tour,” said Pucay, who is set to play for four consecutive weeks, including two on the Asian Tour stops in Taiwan and Thailand before heading back home for the ICTSI-Mt. Malarayat Classic of the Mercedes Benz Tour and the ICTSI Orchard Invitational next month.
Salvador, seeking his second leg win on this year’s ICTSI-Philippine Golf Tour after ruling the kickoff leg at Mt. Malarayat, seized the lead with a 34 at the front and stayed on top after No. 11.
But he sliced his drive on the tough par-4 12th, took a penalty drop and reached the green in four and two putted. He wound up with a 72 and settled for second with a five-under 211 worth P120,000 in the 54-hole tournament which served as the fourth leg of the circuit put up by International Container Terminal Services, Inc. and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments.
“Sayang, I was thinking of using a 3-wood instead of a driver on No. 12. But I wanted to use a 7-iron on my second shot so I opted for a driver,” rued Salvador.
Murakami, who came from behind to snatch the Manila Southwoods title of the Mercedes Benz Tour recently, appeared headed for another come-from-behind win when he rallied from four shots down to move within a shot off Salvador with a five-birdie binge and a 31 after nine holes.
He caught up with Salvador with a birdie on the 10th but the US Open veteran and former winner of The Country Club Invitational stumbled with a bogey on the next and also made a 6 on No. 12 to reel back.
Murakami closed the backside with a 38 for a 69, settling for third at 212 and P65,000 in the event backed by MJ Carr Golf Management, Jaguar, Land Rover, Studio 23, Balls TV, Srixon/Cleveland Golf, Callaway Golf, Odyssey, Golf Punk, Business Mirror, Inquirer Golf Monthly, A Round of Golf, Pinoygolfer.com and Omnisource.
Clearly, the turning point was the tough par-4 12th.
While Salvador and Murakami sputtered with a pair of 6s, Pucay made a routine par.
“In the past, I easily get frustrated but now, I’ve been controlling my emotions and playing patiently,” said Pucay.
Benjie Magada carded a 70 for a 213 for fourth worth P50,000 while rookie pro Antonio Asistio II turned in his best finish so far at fifth at 216 after a 70 and took home P40,000.
Tony Lascuna matched par 72 and wound up solo sixth at 217 while Jay Bayron, winner here last year, fired a 71 and finished tied for seventh with Ferdie Aunzo, who had a 72.
Christopher delos Santos made a 74 and ended up ninth at 219 while Gene Bondoc shot the day’s other best score of 69 for 10th at 220.
Dante Becierra emerged the top amateur for the second straight time with a 228 for joint 21st place.(pr)