Chawalit Plaphol cruised to an eight-stroke victory over Juvic Pagunsan, dominating final day flightmates Tony Lascuna and Davao’s Jay Bayron with an early run of birdies to rule ICTSI Mount Malarayat Championship with a closing four-under par 68 at the Mt. Malarayat Golf and Country Club, Saturday, in Lipa City, Batangas.
Plaphol birdied three of the first six holes, putting the pressure on his Filipino rivals instead of the other way around as the 35-year-old Thai ace completed an emphatic wire-to-wire triumph in this $50,000 event, the fifth leg of the Mercedes Benz Tour.
He wound up with a 22-under 266 in an imposing four-day performance for a first-timer on the M-Benz Tour. His rounds included a course-record tying 64, a 65 and a 69 and Plaphol recorded 27 birdies and an eagle against seven bogeys at the composite Mt. Lobo and Mt. Malipunyo layouts.
“The course is short and it suited my game,” said Plaphol after the one-sided triumph worth $8,126 that augured well for his buildup for various qualifiers on the other lucrative tours in the region, including the Japan PGA Tour.
The runaway win also bettered Pagunsan’s seven-stroke victory over compatriot Udorn Duangdecha in Mercedes-Benz Masters Thailand three weeks ago.
As Lascuna and Bayron failed to press their bid with 36 and 37, respectively after nine holes, Pagunsan, nine strokes behind, took the challenger’s role two flights behind as he fired a 31 highlighted by four straight birdies from No. 6. But he flubbed a couple of makeable birdie putts at the back and settled for a 67 for second at 14-under 274 worth $5,616.
Ferdie Aunzo made the battle for third exciting as he rolled in a 40-foot birdie putt on the final hole to card a 68 and tie Lascuna at 13-under 275. Each took home $2,851.
Lascuna also had to sink a pressure-packed birdie putt from eight feet to salvage a 72 and a share of third.
Mars Pucay, who recently snapped a long title drought on the local circuit by winning the Forest Hills leg of the ICTSI-Philippine Golf Tour, closed out with a 67 for a share of fifth with Thai Atthaphon Prathummanee, who made a 69, at 276.
Artemio Murakami, winner of the M-Benz Tour’s kickoff leg at Manila Southwoods, shot a 69 for a three-way tie for seventh at 277 with Ramil Bisera, who also had a 69 and Omar Dungca, who fired one of the day’s three best scores of 66.
Davao’s Elmer Saban also shot a 66 for solo 10th place at 278.
Bayron proved to be the biggest letdown as the Davaoeno shotmaker, who turned in three straight runner-up finishes on the ongoing M-Benz Tour, limped home with a three-over 75 in a day of low scoring. He dropped to joint 14th at 280 with Cassius Casas, another Davaoeno who rallied with a 67, and Jerson Balasabas, who emerged the top amateur despite a 73.(pr)