Iglupas stuns Balanga, bags Olivarez Cup crown

Khim Iglupas knocked off second seed Edilyn Balanga in a thrilling three-setter, 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-4, to capture the ladies Open singles crown in the fifth Olivarez Cup Open Tennis Championship at the Olivarez Sports Center in Sucat over the weekend.

The third-seeded Iglupas kept the momentum of her equally stinging three-set upset over Clarice Patrimonio in the semifinal round, and like her victory over the top seeded bet, the 16-year-old Philippine Tennis Academy-Manila mainstay broke Balanga once in the decider to clinch the championship.
The Iligan City native actually completed a golden double as she teamed up with Maia Balce to defeat sisters Clarice and Christine Patrimonio, 6-2, 7-5, to bag the doubles diadem.
Iglupas, who trains under Romy Chan, battled Balanga, who eased out Balce, 6-4, 6-4, in the semis, to a hold-hold game in the opener then pulled through in the tiebreak. But Balanga struck back in the second frame, breaking Iglupas early to force the decider.
After both players held serve in the first six games, Iglupas broke Balanga in the seventh then hung tough and foiled her rival’s bid to force a tiebreaker, ending the grueling two-hour, 40 minute showdown in the centerpiece division of the event presented by Palawan Pawnshop-Palawan Express Padala and sanctioned by the Philippine Tennis Association headed by president and Paranaque City Mayor Edwin Olivarez with Technifibre as the official ball.
“She played with a lot of guts and was impressive. Her victory should line her up for more championships,” said Palawan Pawnshop COO Bobby Castro of Iglupas, one of the country’s rising stars who’s been honing her talent and skills in the year-round, nationwide Palawan Pawnshop age-group circuit.
Second seed Johnny Arcilla, who scored a 6-2, 2-6, 5-0(ret.) win over Marc Reyes in the semis of the men’s Open singles, was playing No. 4 Vicente Anasta, who bundled out top seed PJ Tierro, 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-4, in the Final Four, at presstime.
Tierro earlier teamed up with Ronard Joven as the top seeded team trounced Arcilla and Kyle Dandan, 7-6(3), 6-3, to snare the men’s doubles plum.(pr)

Lady Troopers sweep Suns, cop Shakey’s V-L crown

The Army Lady Troopers pose after winning the Shakey’s V-League Season 11 Open Conference crown with a sweep of last year’s champion Cagayan Valley.(pr photo)
The Army Lady Troopers pose after winning the Shakey’s V-League Season 11 Open Conference crown with a sweep of last year’s champion Cagayan Valley.(pr photo)


Army carried out the Shakey’s V-League mission in grand fashion, holding Cagayan Valley to another single-digit output in the second frame before battling back from two points down late in the third to carve out a 25-14, 25-7, 25-23 victory and complete a sweep of the Season 11 Open Conference crown before a full-house crowd at The Arena in San Juan yesterday.

Finals MVP Jovelyn Gonzaga scored two of Army’s last four hits, the first a cross-smash that shattered the 23-all count and the last a down-the-line kill, ending the brief 69-minute encounter and sparking a frenzied celebration by the Lady Troopers, who thus reclaimed the crown they won in Season 8 in 2011.
Held to a close fight after a breeze in the second frame, the Lady Troopers came out of their final huddle smoking, quickly wiping out a 23-21 Cagayan lead as Rachel Ann Daquis rammed in a kill then Gonzaga, loading up at mid-air, fired away a cross-smash to force a tie.
After foiling another Cagayan attack, Army uncoiled another hit before ace setter Tina Salak set up Gonzaga for the big finish.
“I’m lucky to be blessed with great players,” said Army coach Rico de Guzman, who also boasts of former MVPs Mary Jean Balse, a native of Davao del Norte Province, and Nerissa Bautista plus a slew of role players in Genie Sabas, Joanne Bunag and Sarah Jane Gonzales.
But Salak, 38, has hinted at hanging up her jersey to give way to the other young players, including Gonzaga.
“I told coach that this may be my last,” said Salak, an Army Corporal who has been in the service for 17 years. “I’m training her (Gonzaga) as a setter and I see her taking my spot when I leave.”
The victory capped Army’s dominating performance in the mid-season conference of the league sponsored by Shakey’s with the Lady Troopers co-topping the elims with Cagayan Valley and PLDT Home Telpad before clinching the top berth in the Final Four.
They swept the Air Force spikers in the semis then clipped the Rising Suns in the opener of the title playoff, highlighted by holding last year’s champions to a finals low out of five in the fourth, 25-19, 18-25, 25-18, 25-5.
As in practically all their matches, Gonzaga, Daquis, Balse and Bautista churned out double-digit outputs with the first three all pumping in 13 hits and Bautista backing them up with 10 points.
Blessed with so many options, Salak produced another solid game of 30 excellent sets while adding six points, the same output put in by Genie Sabas, while libero Christine Agno kept the ball in play with her and Gonzaga’s brilliant digs.
Like in the series opener, the Lady Troopers lorded it over the net on both ends, firing away 46 smashes against the Suns’ 29 and coming through with 11 blocks as against their rivals’ two.
So tough was Army’s defense that no Cagayan spiker scored in double-figure with top hitter Aiza Maizo held to eight points. Pau Soriano wound up with five hits while Rosemarie Vargas, Wenneth Eulalio and Joy Benito chipped in four markers apiece for the Rising Suns, who posted a record 16-game sweep of this conference last year.(pr)

Dabawenyo outduels Que, cops 1st Aboitiz, ADT crown

Tony Lascuna of Davao City reacts after nailing a 30-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole to cap his three-shot win over Angelo Que in the Aboitiz Invitational at Riviera’s Couples course.(pr photo)
Tony Lascuna of Davao City reacts after nailing a 30-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole to cap his three-shot win over Angelo Que in the Aboitiz Invitational at Riviera’s Couples course.(pr photo)

SILANG, Cavite – Davao’s Tony Lascuna blew his two-shot lead early but hit two clutch birdies then pounced on Angelo Que’s shaky finish to snatch a three-stroke victory with a closing 66 for his first Aboitiz Invitational crown at Riviera’s Couples course here yesterday.
The margin of victory didn’t actually reflect the manner by which the country’s top guns slugged it out in virtual mano-a-mano right from the start with Lascuna recovering his touch with an eagle and a three birdie-binge in a five-hole stretch linking both nines to wrest control and Que bouncing back with his own eagle on the 16th only to reel back with a disastrous bogey on the next for a 67.
In the end, it was the winningest player on the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour who nailed his fourth leg victory while extending the other’s winless spell in the season.
“Angelo and I played many times over in the final round that’s why we really know each other’s game well. We match up pretty much even and it was only a question of who will make a mistake first,” said Lascuna.
He actually blinked first, bogeying No. 5 which Que birdied to wipe out Lascuna’s overnight two-shot lead. Que birdied the next to go 1-up, but Lascuna quickly evened things up with a chip-in eagle from the fringe on the par-5 7th off a superb 4-iron shot from 210 yards then birdied the next to wrest a one-stroke lead at the turn.
Lascuna opened the backside with back-to-back birdies and threatened to pull away by three as Que settled for five straight pars but the latter closed within two again as Lascuna bogeyed No. 15 then moved within one with after a solid 6-iron shot from 220 yards that stopped within six feet for eagle.
But it was Que who cracked in the end, hitting a poor drive and missing the green for bogey on the 17th. Two-up and all pumped-up, Lascuna reached the par-4 18th in regulation then capped his victory by drilling in a 30-foot birdie putt to the delight of the big crowd that ringed the 18th green.
“It was a tough win. It could’ve gone either way,” said Lascuna, who wound up with a 268, that included a 66, 69 and 67, worth $17,500 (P752,500) although the 20-under total didn’t go into the record books since preferred lies rules were used for the tournament, sponsored by Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Inc. for the fourth straight year.
“No problem with the record. I’ll take the win any time. I worked hard for it,” said Lascuna who thanked his supporters, particularly wife Cheryl Alferez, set to give birth to their second child two weeks now, and daughter Shanryl Antonette, who hugged him on the 18th green.
“That’s the beauty of playing against Tony (Lascuna). I always have to dish out my A-game as well. I love being paired with him because I feel so relaxed with him around,” said Que, the three-time Asian Tour winner who remained winless in the season.
Like Lascuna, Que ended up with a run of under par cards for a 271 (65-71-68-67) and won $11,500 then immediately left to catch his flight to France on his way to the European Masters in Switzerland set next week.
Lascuna’s triumph, his first on the ADT, this being the 14th leg of Asian Tour’s farm circuit and co-staged by the ADT and Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc., also capped the Filipinos’ sweep of the three ADT titles held in the country this year with Elmer Salvador winning the ADT ICTSI Riviera Classic at Langer last May and Rufino Bayron clinching his maiden win at ADT ICTSI Orchard Championship last June.
It was also Lascuna’s fourth win this season, including his romps at ICTSI Eagle Ridge, ICTSI Valley Golf and ICTSI Negros Occidental legs of the Philippine Golf Tour.
Thai Pijit Petchkasem, who joined Lascuna and Que in the championship flight with a 68 Friday, lost his way while trying to match the local aces’ hot start, fumbling with a 38 and finishing with a 73, enabling compatriot Rattan Wannasrichan to seize third place at 275 after a 70 worth $7,000.
Petchkasem slid to joint fourth with compatriot Poosit Supupramai, who had a 68, and second round leader Brett Munson of the US, who made a 71, for 277. Each got $4,566. Ireland’s Niall Turner took solo seventh at 279 after a 67 while Jhonnel Ababa, who shared the lead with Que in the first round with a 65, rallied with a 70 to finish tied for eighth at 280 with Miguel Tabuena, who carded a 71, Singapore’s Koh Deng Shan, who shot a 69, and Taiwanese Hsieh Tung-shu, who turned in a 71.
The other backers of the event were Nike Golf, Pacsports Phils. Inc., Srixon, Callaway, Mizuno, Empire Golf, Footjoy, Titleist, Custom Clubmakers, Sharp and KZG, the Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. with ABS-CBN Sports & Action, Balls and Inquirer Golf as media partners.(pr)

Davao’s Lascuna zeroes in on first Aboitiz, ADT crown with 67

SILANG, Cavite – Davao’s Tony Lascuna flubbed a birdie try from 12 feet on the last hole but still held on to a two-stroke lead over Angelo Que and Thai Pijit Petchkasem as erstwhile leader Brett Munson wavered coming home to close in on his first Aboitiz Invitational crown at the Riviera Golf and Country Club here yesterday.

Faced with a tough, uphill birdie putt, Lascuna cracked and misread the allowance, the final par giving him a 34 and a 67 for a 54-hole haul of 14-under 202, two strokes ahead of Que and Petchkasem, who turned in identical four-under 68s for 204s in another day of low scoring at the Couples layout.
The in-form Lascuna, who started the day one shot behind Munson and tied with Jhonnel Ababa, outgunned his rivals in the featured flight and surged ahead with a flawless 33. He hit two more birdies on Nos. 11 and 12 but ended his bogey-free run after 48 holes with a three-putt miscue on No. 13 from 16 feet.
Still, he recovered the stroke with a birdie on the 16th and stayed ahead of the pack despite that final hole miss as Que settled for pars in the last six holes and Petchkasem ran out of holes after making a late charge with three birdies in the last six holes.
“I have been driving great for three days now. For me, it is an important part of my game because a good one will reward me with a nice set-up for a birdie,” said Lascuna, who, however, opted to downplay his chances for a first-ever ADT title in the event co-staged by the ADT and the Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
“I don’t want to think about winning yet. I just want to concentrate on my game tomorrow (today). Hopefully, I can continue to play like how I did in the first three rounds,” said the 43-year-old Davaoeno.
Rattanon Wannasrichan, also of Thailand, rallied with three birdies in the last four holes and shot a 67 for a 205, while Munson, who took charge halfway through the $100,000 event sponsored by Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Inc. and backed by International Container Terminal Services, Inc., with a 66Thursday, went two-under after 13 holes but bogeyed Nos. 14 and 15 and tumbled down to fifth at 206.
Swede Nils Floren turned in the day’s best – a bogey-free 66 to seize solo sixth at 207 while Miguel Tabuena hit three birdies at the back to fire a 70 and move to joint seventh at 209 with Taiwan’s Hsieh Tung-shu, who shot a 67, and Thait Poosit Supupramai, who sputtered with a 73.
Ababa never recovered from a frontside 37 and limped with a 75 to drop to joint 10th with Scot James Byrne, who won last week’s ADT leg in Jakarta, who failed to sustain his second round 64 with a 71.
Que actually matched Lascuna’s frontside 33, pitching in from 20 yards to start his round. But like in the opener where he shot 30 but slowed with a 35 for a 65, he settled for just one birdie at the back while saving pars in the last three after missing the green.
“Maybe I got a bit tired in the end.  Overall, though, I was okay.  So excited to be in Lascuna’s flight again.  We know so well our game and have so much respect with each other.  It is going to be tough as he is really a tough opponent,” Que said.
But Petchkasem looms as a key contender for the top $17,500 purse with the Thai ace hoping to sustain his fightback from a bogey on No. 2 with five birdies as he slugs it out with the country’s aces in the championship flight.(pr)