Zanie Boy Gialon came through with routine pars in the last two holes to check an impending skid and hold off a rallying Charles Hong in a flight ahead, salvaging a 70 and snapping a two-year slump by winning the storm-hit ICTSI Royal Northwoods Championship by one in San Rafael, Bulacan on Saturday.
Hong made a late charge from seven strokes down with five birdies in the last seven holes to threaten within one after 54 holes with a 67 and a 205. But the ICTSI Sherwood Hills Classic winner missed forcing a playoff as Gialon bounced back from a birdie-double-bogey-birdie-bogey stint from No. 13 with gritty pars to save a 34-36 card and a 204.
“I just hung in on there and went for pars in the last two holes,” said Gialon, who fashioned out the win in the absence of the tour big guns, including reigning back-to-back Order of Merit champion Tony Lascuña, Elmer Salvador, Miguel Tabuena, Jay Bayron and Cassius Casas, all competing on the Asian Tour.
“I’m happy and it’s nice to win again despite the tournament being reduced to 54 holes,” added Gialon, who marked his rookie season in 2012 with two victories but went on a slump the last two years.
While his pursuers tried to press their respective bids under the lift, clean and place rule, Gialon played it safe throughout, settling for regulation pars while cashing in on every birdie opportunities, leading Mhark Fernando by five at the turn and seven ahead of Hong after 11 holes.
But he needed to overcome the backside pressure in the final round that fired off late to allow the fairways and greens to dry up a bit following Typhoon Mario’s onslaught Friday. He took the top purse of P270,000.
Hong, who drilled in a birdie from 32 feet out on the final hole to close within one, settled for P185,000.
Rufino Bayron, who topped an international field to score his maiden win in the Asian Development Tour’s ICTSI Orchard Championship, also rallied with three birdies in the last six holes to fire a 68 and snatch third place at 207 worth P105,000.
Fernando, winner at ICTSI Riviera last year, tried to fight back with birdies on Nos. 11 and 13 but missed a couple of birdie chances in the next four before bogeying the final hole for a 71. He wound up fourth at 208 and took home P85,000.
Christopher delos Santos hit three straight birdies from No. 11 and finished with a 68 to place fifth at 209 worth P68,500 while Dutch Guido Van der Valk also rebounded with a 68 to tie a faltering Elmer Saban, winner at ICTSI Splendido last year, who hobbled with a 73, at 211. They shared the combined purse of P111,500.
Benjie Magada and Jhonnel Ababa carded identical 70s and finished tied for eight with Arnold Villacencio, who matched par 72, at 212 and split the combined prize of P113,500 in the event backed by Nike Golf, Pacsports Phils. Inc., Srixon, Callaway, Mizuno, Empire Golf, Footjoy, Titleist, Custom Clubmakers, Sharp and KZG.