Zanieboy Gialon snapped a three-year title spell by winning the ICTSI Calatagan Golf Challenge crown on Saturday, leaning on a strong start and a stronger finish to beat Jhonnel Ababa by six on a closing 67 at the Calatagan Golf Club in Batangas.
Two birdies in the first four holes kept Gialon away from erstwhile pursuer Tony Lascuña’s reach and the diminutive shotmaker pulled away at the back with three more birdies on his way to blasting his more illustrious fellow Davaoeño rivals and nailing his fourth career victory in the P2.5 million event sponsored by ICTSI.
It was the first lopsided victory in this year’s circuit marked by one-shot triumphs and a playoff finish with Gialon anchoring his emphatic win on a brilliant third day 66 that netted him a three-shot lead over Lascuña and a near-impeccable final round effort for a 16-under 272 total worth P450,000.
“I expected to win after going 3-up in the third round. I knew it would be difficult for them (Tony and Jhonnel) to give chase,” said Gialon, who came into the event brimming with confidence following a sixth-place effort at ICTSI Manila Southwoods and a tied for fifth finish in the Philippine Masters revival at Villamor last month.
“I knew I’d contend this week since I’ve been playing and hitting the ball pretty solid. And I think Calatagan best suits my game,” said Gialon, who also cited the support of Transview Callaway’s Kit de Chaves and Wack Wack Federation Team’s Marlon Dizon.
Ababa, who shared the halfway lead with Gialon, rebounded from a disastrous third round 73 with a 66, rallying from joint fifth to solo second at 278 worth P320,000 in the event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Lascuña failed to flash his vaunted final round charge with poor putting, finishing with two birdies against the same number of bogeys for a 72, ending up third at 280 while Jun Bernis fought back with a 68 to snatch fourth place at 281. They received P180,000 and P140,000, respectively.
Rufino Bayron, the other player in the championship flight, failed to sustain a third round 67 with a 73, dropping to joint fifth at 282 with Clyde Mondilla, winner of the last two Philippine Golf Tour events, who rallied with three birdies in the last eight holes for a 70. Each took home P102,500.
Jay Bayron settled for a 72 for seventh at 283 while Gerald Rosales birdied the first two holes and wound up with a 70 to finish eighth at 284 and James Lam and Orlan Sumcad shot 67 and 70, respectively, to tie first round leader Guido Van der Valk of the Netherlands, who fired a 69, at ninth at 286 in the event backed by BDO, KZG, Custom Clubmakers, Meralco, Sharp, Champion, Summit Mineral Water and PLDT.
Expecting an early pressure from Lascuña and Rufino Bayron, Gialon turned the tables instead on his veteran rivals, birdying Nos. 1 and 4 to stay five shots clear then quickly rebounded from a bogey mishap on No. 5 with a birdie from close range on the next.
With Lascuña slowed down by putting woes with only a birdie to show after nine holes and Bayron bowing out with a 37, Gialon preserved a 34 card at the turn then rattled off three birdies on Nos. 11, 13 and 15 to douse whatever rally Ababa had hoped after opening with a 33 and nail the victory that came three years after he ruled the rain-shortened ICTSI Royal Northwoods Championship.