Dabawenyo Tony Lascuna warded off Miguel Tabuena and fellow Davao native Jhonnel Ababa’s day-long charge with superb shots and clutch birdies – the last on No. 17 that finished off his rivals and sealed his three-stroke romp in the ICTSI Manila Southwoods Championship at Southwoods’ Legends course in Carmona, Cavite yesterday.
Despite the five-shot lead he brought into the final round of the P2.5 million event, Lascuna still needed to dish out a flawless four-under 68 to frustrate Tabuena, who fired a 66, and Ababa, who shot a 65, and retain the crown he won over Angelo Que last year with a 72-hole aggregate of 21-under 267.
“I didn’t lose composure when they threatened to within two but I told myself not to commit any mistakes,” said Lascuna in Pilipino.
He did – knocking down big shots and putts, including a birdie on the ninth that restored a three-shot cushion and on the 17th that put him beyond reach again.
Tabuena did better Lascuna’s 68 with a solid six-under 66, finishing without a bogey in the last 51 holes. But the ace teener, who won the kickoff leg of this year’s tour at ICTSI Sherwood, still finished three strokes behind at 270.
“I gave him a scare in the first five holes but it was Tony I’m up against with. If it was a different guy, he would have folded up,” said Tabuena. “You can’t expect Tony to make many mistakes.”
Tabuena pressed his bid early with three birdies in the first four holes, moving within two, so did Ababa in a flight ahead, who battled from six shots down with a stirring four-birdie string from No. 2.
But Tabuena cooled down midway through and Ababa, out to snap a two-year title drought, fumbled with a bogey on the par-3 12th to reel back. Ababa, however, regained his bearing and made three birdies in the last six holes to turn in the day’s best 65 and forge a runner-up finish at 270, his best since placing solo second to Lascuna at ICTSI Calatagan last May.
“It’s really tough to chase a player like Tony. I really tried my best by he (Tony) also played a good round,” said Ababa.
“Jhonnel played a solid round. But when he failed to birdie the 17th, I gained more confidence,” said Lascuna, who also become the second player to win two legs this year after Frankie Minoza’s back-to-back romp at ICTSI Del Monte and ICTSI Pueblo de Oro.
He also duplicated fellow Dabawenyo Elmer Salvador’s successful title-retention bid at Aboitiz Invitational in Cebu last July.
The victory, worth P450,000, likewise firmed up Lascuna’s hold of the lead in the Order of Merit derby on the iCTSI Philippine Golf Tour, hiking his earnings after 11 legs with P1,682,332.
Tabuena, who has held the OOM lead majority of the way, shared the combined runner-up prize of P530,000 with Ababa, and stayed in second with P1,456,527 heading to the last four legs of the circuit sponsored by International Container Terminals Services, Inc.
Salvador and flightmate Minoza both shot 66s to salvage joint fourth at 273 while Mars Pucay and Orlan Sumcad finished tied at 275 after a 69 and 70, respectively.
Cassius Casas lost steam after staying in the hunt for three days, finishing with a 72 and dropping to solo eighth at 276 while ICTSI Midlands winner Carl Santos-Ocampo and former Philippine Open champion Gerald Rosales, who shot 68 and 71 for 277 and 278, respectively.
Other backers of the event were Nike Golf, Srixon, Custom Clubmakers, Pacsports, Cleveland Golf, Callaway, Ping, Mizuno, Empire Golf and Sports Shop, FootJoy, Titleist, Sharp, BMW and Gergia Energy Foods.(pr)