Jay Bayron ended a string of final round setbacks to Tony Lascuña, beating the reigning three-time Order of Merit champion with a strong start for a two-stroke victory on a closing 66 in the P1.5 million ICTSI Summit Point Classic in Lipa, Batangas on Friday.
Not even Lascuña’s fiery eagle-spiked windup could shake off Bayron, who lost three strokes on No. 15 but countered with a clutch birdie on No.16 and two routine pars to finish off his fellow Davaoeno ace and snare the elusive crown with a 23-under 265 aggregate worth P270,000.
Lascuña, who rallied to within one with a fiery 63 in the third round, fell by as many as six as he failed to match Bayron’s scorching start of seven birdies against one bogey in the first 14 holes. But he eagled No. 15 for a three-shot swing as Bayron bogeyed the par-4 hole but missed a six-foot birdie putt on No. 16 and lost by two despite a birdie-birdie finish.
He wound up with a 67 and a 267, missing what could’ve been a third leg victory on the ICTSI-sponsored circuit after dominating the ICTSI Apo and ICTSI Classic legs last month.
“It’s nice to win again and nicer clinching it over Tony for the first time in a long while,” said Bayron, the OOM champion on the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour in 2012 who last won in March 2014 via a come-from-behind win over brother Rufino at Splendido.
Bracing for a shootout, Bayron outgunned Lascuña with an early burst of birdies – five at the front, including the three par-5s, that negated a lone bogey mishap on the par-3 sixth. With Lascuña missing a couple of birdie putts from close range, Bayron rammed in another birdie on No. 10 and went unassailably ahead with his seventh birdie on No. 12.
With just two birdies to show at the front and fumbling with a bogey on the par-5 14th, Lascuña fell way behind by six but hit an eagle on the next on a wedge shot from 120 yards to move within three with four holes left. But Bayron thwarted his rally with a birdie on No. 16 and two pars against Lascuña’s par and two birdies.
“My putts just won’t drop in the early going. And I don’t think he got a bit rattled from that three-shot swing on No. 15 since he was already up by 6,” said Lascuña, who settled for P185,000 runner-up prize.
Though he fell short of his title bid, Lascuña succeeded in wresting the lead in the money race of the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. with total earnings of P1,999,960, moving past Miguel Tabuena, who pooled P1,951,917 after snatching P105,000 for his third place effort at 275 after a 70. Erstwhile frontrunner and absentee Angelo Que dropped to third with P1,937,131.
Elmer Salvador matched par 72 and tied Jhonnel Ababa, who faltered with a 74, at fourth at 276, while Orlan Sumcad carded a 70 for solo sixth at 277 and Cassius Casas rallied with a 70 to salvage joint seventh at 278 with Korean Park Jun Hyeok, who hobbled with a 73, and Rufino Bayron, who had a 74.
Clyde Mondilla fired an eagle-spiked 30 at the front but wavered with a closing 37 for a 67 and wound up 10th at 279.