Lascuna holds off Casas, keeps 2-shot lead


Tony Lascuña slowed down with a four-under 68 after a 64 but remained two-up over a steady Cassius Casas as the rest of the fancied and unheralded bets floundered halfway through the Manila Southwoods Championship at Southwoods’ Legends in Carmona, Cavite on Thursday.

Spared of another delay due to lightning in the afternoon, Lascuna made the most of the switch in tee-times, matching his opening backside stint of 32, including a birdie-blast on the 18th, for a 36-32 card and a two-day haul of 12-under 132.

He actually went five-under after back-to-back birdies from No. 7 that negated a bogey on No. 4 but the reigning Order of Merit champion, who bucked poor driving with superb iron shots and steady putting, stumbled with a bogey on the ninth after failing to return a bending six-footer.

Still, it kept Lascuña on track for a second straight championship in this P2.5 million event he ruled by two shots over Angelo Que last year although this time, he will have do it against a former ace trying to make a comeback of sorts from a long spell on the circuit sponsored by International Container Terminals Services Inc.

“My driving was off, I lacked confidence, resulting to a lot of fade shots off the mound,” said Lascuña, who rolled in birdies in close range on Nos. 13, 16 and 17 in Pilipino. “It’s a good thing that I made a lot of putts for birdies.”

He will need more of those as the chase for the top P450,000 purse heats up in today’s pivotal third round with a fired-up Casas pooling his best 36-hole output in years and threatening at 10-under 134 after back-to-back five-under 67s.

“I missed the winning feeling,” said Casas, who dominated the local circuit in the late 90s and early 2000s but went on a slump the last few years, his last victory coming two years ago due to the disqualification of three leading players at the Del Monte leg of the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour. “I’ve been practicing a lot and trying to be patient with my game.”

Rufino Bayron, still in search of a breakthrough win after humbling the pros as an amateur at ICTSI Valley in late 2009, came out of an hour-long delay in sizzling form, closing out with four straight birdies at the front for one of the day’s two best scores of six-under 66. With a nine-under 135 aggregate, Bayron joins Lascuña and Casas in the final group today.

ICTSI Sherwood leg champion Miguel Tabuena also used a 32 at the back to fire a 68 but stood five strokes behind Lascuna at 137 while Jhonnel Ababa and Marvin Dumandan, also seeking to snap a long skid, were at 138 after a 68 and 69, respectively.

Dante Becierra rallied with a 67 to join Ababa and Dumandan at sixth.

Some, however, failed to sustain their hot start, including Mhark Fernando, who hobbled with a 73 after a 66, and Japanese Tomokazu Yoshinaga, who settled for par 72 after a 67, for 139s in a tie with Frankie Minoza (69), Gerald Rosales (71), Mars Pucay (68) and Elmer Salvador, who charged back from an opening 73 with a 66.


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