Davao’s Aunzo, Bacolod’s Pagunsan remain tied at helm, brace for shootout

Dabawenyo Ferdie Aunzo birdied the last two holes at the front to match Juvic Pagunsan’s second straight 69 Thursday as the duo remained tied for the lead for the final round shootout for the ICTSI Apo Golf Invitational crown at the Apo Golf and Country Club in Davao City.
Aunzo looked headed for a mediocre round with a slew of pars coming home until he rammed in a six-foot birdie putt on the eighth then holed out with another four-footer on the ninth for a 34-35 card. He pooled a six-under 138 total, staying alongside Pagunsan, who threatened to pull away from the field and duplicate his last year’s runaway victory with an eagle-spiked 33-36 round in the morning flight.
But Aunzo fashioned out that solid windup and kept Davaoenos‘ title bid alive in the P1 million championship serving as the eighth leg of the 13-stage circuit put up ICTSI and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Elmer Saban, another local talent who shared the lead with Pagunsan and Aunzo in the first round, slowed down with a one-over 73 and dropped four strokes behind although he booked a first-ever stint in the championship flight with a 142.
Two other Davaoenos – Rufino Bayron and reigning RP Open champion Elmer Salvador – stood at 144 after 70 and 71, respectively, as they joined rookie pro Antonio Asistio II and longshot Richard Abaring, who both had 72s, in joint fourth.
Anthony Fernando shot a 70 for a 145 while Zanie Boy Gialon (73) and fellow amateur Jhonnel Ababa (74) stood in joint ninth with Ebarra Quiachon, who limped with a 76, at 146.
The battle for the top P200,000 purse, however, has been reduced to a two-man affair.
Like in the first round when he closed out with back-to-back birdies at the front, Pagunsan birdied two of the last three holes at the back to cap another fine round for the country’s leading shotmaker although this time, he spiked his 33-36 round with an eagle on the par-5 No 6.
Aunzo actually made a bogey start on No. 10 but the ICTSI Royal Northwoods leg winner last year rebounded with back-to-back birdies from No. 16 before closing out with two birdies to stay in the title hunt.
The other fancied contenders simply faded with atrocious rounds.
Dabawenyo Cassius Casas, just two behind Pagunsan at the start of the round, reeled back with eight bogeys against two bogeys, finishing with a six-over 78 and tumbling down to joint 16th at 149.
Benjie Magada, who nipped Tony Lascuna and Jay Bayron in a three-hole playoff to capture the last ICTSI leg at The Orchard, stumbled with an awful 43 at the back, marred by a quadruple bogey on the par-4 No. 12 when he drove out of bounds and then dumped his second drive into the hazard.
Meanwhile, Dabawenyo Marvin Dumandan, who topped the ICTSI-Sherwood leg this year and winner of the Apo stage in 2008, withdrew due to high fever.
The event is backed by MJ 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)
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