Davao’s Cassius Casas ended a long title-drought on the ICTSI-Philippine Golf Tour in the most unexpected, strange way, snatching the ICTSI Del Monte Championship crown in Bukidnon, Friday, when the three leading players – Elmer Salvador, Richard Sinfuego and Juvic Pagunsan – were disqualified due to a final-hole boo-boo.
Casas, just two behind Salvador at the start of the final round, worked his way in the second-to-last flight with Angelo Que and Robert Pactolerin with three straight birdies from No. 7 but slowed down at back and settled for a 69.
The dusky Davaoeno shotmaker, who was so confident of his chances heading into this P1 million event sponsored by ICTSI, was resigned for another failed try in his comeback bid from a long slump on the local circuit and was about to board his card on way back to Davao when he got a call from the organizing committee.
“I was told by my co-players that there was a dispute and when I got back to the clubhouse, the committee told me that I won the tournament,” said Casas, still perplexed by the sudden turn of events that came his way.
“As I said before this tournament, I was so confident I would win this one,” said Casas. “But I didn’t pray that they get disqualified. But golf has rules and we must play by the rules.”
The championship flight was disqualified for an infraction on Rule 22-6 that has something to do with assisting, according to tournament referee Henry Arabejo.
He said Salvador, who dropped behind Sinfuego with an awful frontside stint of 38 but wheeled back into a share of the lead with three straight birdies from No. 10, pitched first from around the par-5 18th, the ball rolling and stopping barely six inches to the hole for a tap-in birdie.
But instead of marking the ball, he opted not to mark allegedly upon the advise of Pagunsan and Sinfuego, letting the two others to make their respective pitch shots.
“I was actually about to mark it but Juvic and Richard told me not to, so I let them make their shots. But after we holed out, we were told that we were all disqualified,” said Salvador, whose potential birdie would’ve given him a one-shot victory over Sinfuego, who made it on the green in four, in Filipino.
“What puzzles me was he (Arabejo) was there on the green and he didn’t even call my attention to tell me that I had to mark the ball first,” Salvador said. “Sayang talaga ‘to.”
The tumultuous ending for the troika proved to be a happy one for Casas, who snatched the top P200,000 purse after finishing with a 206, three shots clear of Pactolerin, who had a 209 after a 71, and Angelo Que, who matched par 72. Pactolerin and Que split the combined P185,000 purse.
Tony Lascuna came in fourth with a 210 after 70 and won P50,000 followed by Albin Engino (70), Ferdie Aunzo (72) and Artemio Murakami (72), who tied for fifth with 212s, Romeo Jaraula (70) and Rufino Bayron (70), who both had 213s, and Mars Pucay (72) and Benjie Magada (74), who tied for 10th with 214s.
The event, organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc., was 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