LIPA, Batangas – Dabawenyo Tony Lascuña chalked up another win on a scorching finish at Mt. Malipunyo, closing out with a solid 32 for a six-under 66 and beating Clyde Mondilla, Jay Bayron and Robert Pactolerin by six to capture the ICTSI Classic crown at Mt. Malarayat Golf and Country Club here yesterday.
Unlike in his come-from-behind one-shot win over Miguel Tabuena at ICTSI Apo three weeks ago, however, Lascuña turned a shaky overnight one-shot lead into a runaway triumph as erstwhile rivals Pactolerin and Arnold Villacencio succumbed to final round pressure and faded out early.
“It’s nice to win again and nicer to be able to post a runaway victory unlike the last time out when I had to rally to beat a solid player in Miguel,” said Lascuña, who pulled away by four over Pactolerin with a 34 start at Mt. Lubo then turned the tougher backside into a virtual playground with four birdies, including a pitch-in feat from 25 yards on No. 14.
He wound up with a 15-under 273, completing a run of under-par rounds that included a 69, 70 and 68 and pocketing another P270,000 that shoved him past absentee Angelo Que for No. 2 in the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour Order of Merit ranking and closer to Tabuena (P1,795,256), who also skipped the event, with a P1,724,060.
Three flights ahead, Mondilla holed out with four straight birdies to fire a five-under 67 and tie Bayron, who shot a 70, and Pactolerin, who birdied the last two holes to salvage a 71, at 279. They split the combined PP375,000 prize in this 10th leg of the circuit sponsored by ICTSI.
Elmer Salvador also fought back with a 67 to share fifth place with Orlan Sumcad, who carded a 68, Albin Engino, who hobbled with a 73, and top amateur Jobim Carlos, who turned in a 71, at 282 while Rey Pagunsan likewise put in a 67 to finish solo ninth at 283.
Anthony Fernando and Jhonnel Ababa each shot a 70 for joint 10th at 284 while Villacencio, the first round leader who moved within one after 54 holes of the event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc., lost his focus, limped home with a 77 and tumbled to 12th at 285.
In contrast, Lascuña was in his elements all day, splitting the fairways with consistency and settling up birdie chances from close range with solid iron game and converting them with steady putting.
“I really didn’t stop training until I got my game – swing and putting – back,” said Lascuña, who racked up five victories last year to keep the OOM crown for the third straight season but went on a winless run in this year’s first nine legs.
He also played an inspired game all-day in the presence of his family in the gallery, led by wife Cheryl Alferez and kids Antonette and Antonio III, who joined him at the podium during awards rites.
“They’re my lucky charm,” said Lascuña, who also thanked his long-time backers Srixon balls, ICTSI and Ping irons through Joey Mendoza.
With two wins in row, Lascuña has suddenly put himself on track to duplicating his last year’s five-title feat with another crack at the championship looming in this week’s Aboitiz Invitational at Manila Southwoods, which he ruled by three shots over Que at Riviera last year.
“I’m confident of my chances but I know it will be tough with a lot of foreign players joining the hunt next week,” said Lascuña, bracing for a tougher challenge that will include Que and Tabuena plus the top 10 players in the Asian Develop Tour OOM ranking.
Other backers of the event were Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Callaway, Srixon, Mizuno, TaylorMade, Nike Golf, Sharp, Custom Clubmakers, Titleist, Rudy Project, Pacsports, Omnisource, Cleveland Golf, KZG, FootJoy, Silicon, Empire and Great Depot.(pr)