Cassius Casas blew a three-stroke lead with six holes to go in regulation but toughened up in the playoff to nip Clyde Mondilla on the second extra hole and capture the P1 million Canlubang Golf Invitational at Cangolf’s North course in Canlubang.
Casas made a routine par on their trip on the par-4 18th in driving rains then watched Mondilla crack under pressure and flub a par putt bid from three feet, handing the crown and the top P200,000 purse to the former Philippine Open champion.
“At last, I won it fair and square. And winning it through a playoff makes this victory sweeter,” said Casas, who posted his last win on the International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) Philippine Golf Tour when Juvic Pagunsan, Richard Sinfuego and Elmer Salvador were disqualified on a final hole infraction at ICTSI Del Monte Championship in 2010.
This time, he won it through sheer hard work.
Casas, who seized control of the field with a brilliant 66 Wednesday and held on to a one-shot lead over Mondilla after 36 holes, looked headed for a runaway victory when he went three-up with a birdie on No. 12. But he stumbled with two bogeys in the last three holes and wound up with a 73, enabling Mondilla, who birdied No. 14 and parred the last four holes, to force a playoff at seven-under 209 after a 72.
Both players parred the first playoff hole, also the No. 18, with Casas missing an eight-footer for birdie.
But after a solid drive, Casas hacked a superb 9-iron shot to within eight feet and though he missed completing a birdie, he clinched the crown just the same as Mondilla blew his par bid from close range after missing the green.
Mondilla rushed out of the clubhouse after the brief awards rites, ruing the chance to extend the playoff to another hole with that missed par putt and perhaps a shot at a breakthrough victory.
Still, his runner-up finish, worth P120,000, augured well for the young Del Monte shotmaker who came into the event reeling from six straight missed cut stints and a 28th place finish in last month’s ICTSI Riviera leg of the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.