Tony Lascuna put on an amazing show of shotmaking and superb putting as he shot a bogey-free six under par 66 to seize a one-stroke lead over veteran Cassius Casas at the start of the P1 million ICTSI Orchard Golf Championship at The
Orchard’s Palmer Course in Dasmarinas, Cavite, Wednesday.
Lascuna, still in search of his breakthrough win on the ICTSI-Philippine Golf Tour, took advantage of the early morning flight and showed up the fancied flightmate Angelo Que with back-to-back opening birdies. He then went on to fire
four more from close range while saving pars four times to keep an unblemished slate of 33-33.
“I’ve been hitting the ball well the last few rounds,” said Lascuna, referring to his joint third-place finish at ICTSI Mt. Malarayat Championship last week.
“I missed just one fairway today (June 30), made a lot of birdies then got lucky with four saved pars.”
While Lascuna bucked the testy pin placements with his steady putting, Que struggled all day on the layout’s unpredictable surface, needing to birdie the par-5 18th to salvage a 72.
Benjie Magada fired a hole-in-one on the 206-yard No. 5 and went on to shoot a 69 to lead six others in joint third, two shots behind second-running Casas, who also fashioned out a bogey-less 67.
Juvic Pagunsan, one of the players earlier tipped to contend for the top P200,000 purse in this seventh leg of the circuit put up by International Container Terminal Services, Inc., also groped for form despite coming off a victory abroad and a runner-up finish at Mt. Malarayat last Sunday as he limped home with a two-over 74.
He never recovered from a bogey on No. 1, uncharacteristically dropping two strokes on the par-5 No. 4 while fumbling with two more bogeys against three birdies for a 39-35 card.
But a host of others lurk behind Lascuna with Casas flashing vintage form to fire a 67, Magada, Jay Bayron, Ramil Bisera, Randy Garalde, Jong Laput, rookie pro Rufino Bayron and amateur Peter Villaber all shooting 69 and Elmer Salvador, winner of Tuesday’s pro-am, and Mars Pucay, who won the ICTSI Forest Hills leg last month, leading the two-under 70 scorers.
Casas, the most dominant figure on the local tour in the mid-90s and early 2000 until his form took a dip in the mid-2000, matched Lascuna’s bogey-free round although he fell short of one birdie to gain a share of the lead.
Still, it was a solid and inspiring start for the Davaoeno shotmaker, also one of the coaches of the ICTSI golf team.
“I didn’t expect to shoot this low but I’ll try to keep my form and hopefully go for the crown. It’s been a long time since I last won,” said Casas in Filipino.
Bisera also rallied with a 33 at the back to lead the three-under 69 scorers while Rufino Bayron nearly blew a brilliant four-under 32 at the front with a shaky stint at the back.
Villaber actually turned in the lowest score at the front with a 31 but the spearhead of the ICTSI golf team sputtered with three bogeys against a birdie at the back for that 69.
Amateur Dante Becierra also outplayed Lascuna and Que in one of the earlier flights, firing a four-under 32. But the former Hong Kong Amateur Open champion took a double-bogey on No. 12 then bogeyed the last three holes for a 41 and a 73.
The other 70 scorers were Cookie La’o, Jun Bernis, Korean Choi Moon Sik, Elmer Saban, while a stroke behind at 71 were Anthony Fernando, Michael Bibat, Omar Dungca, Joenard Rates, Ruben Sasutil, Robert Pactolerin and current Order of Merit leader Artemio Murakami.
The event is organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. and backed by byMJ Carr Golf Management, Jaguar, Land Rover, Studio 23, Balls TV, Srixon/Cleveland Golf, Callaway Golf, Odyssey and Golf Punk and media partners Business Mirror, Inquirer Golf Monthly, A Round of Golf, Pinoygolfer.com and Omnisource.(pr)