TONY LACUSÑA blew his two-shot lead early but hit two clutch birdies then pounced on Angelo Que’s shaky finish to snatch a three-stroke victory with a closing 66 for his first Aboitiz Invitational crown at Riviera’s Couples course in Silang, Cavite on Saturday.
The margin of victory didn’t actually reflect the manner by which the country’s top guns slugged it out in virtual mano-a-mano right from the start with Lascuña recovering his touch with an eagle and a three birdie-binge in a five-hole stretch linking both nines to wrest control and Que bouncing back with his own eagle on the 16th only to reel back with a disastrous bogey on the next for a 67.
In the end, it was the winningest player on the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour who nailed his fourth leg victory while extending the other’s winless spell in the season.
“Angelo and I played many times over in the final round that’s why we really know each other’s game well. We match up pretty much even and it was only a question of who will make a mistake first,” said Lascuña.
He actually blinked first, bogeying No. 5 which Que birdied to wipe out Lascuña’s overnight two-shot lead. Que birdied the next to go 1-up, but Lascuña quickly evened things up with a chip-in eagle from the fringe on the par-5 7th off a superb 4-iron shot from 210 yards then birdied the next to wrest a one-stroke lead at the turn.
Lascuña opened the backside with back-to-back birdies and threatened to pull away by three as Que settled for five straight pars but the latter closed within two again as Lascuña bogeyed No. 15 then moved within one with after a solid 6-iron shot from 220 yards that stopped within six feet for eagle.
But it was Que who cracked in the end, hitting a poor drive and missing the green for bogey on the 17th. Two-up and all pumped-up, Lascuña reached the par-4 18th in regulation then capped his victory by drilling in a 30-foot birdie putt to the delight of the big crowd that ringed the 18th green.
“It was a tough win. It could’ve gone either way,” said Lascuna, who wound up with a 268, that included a 66, 69 and 67, worth $17,500 (P752,500) although the 20-under total didn’t go into the record books since preferred lies rules were used for the tournament, sponsored by Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Inc. for the fourth straight year.
Like Lascuña, Que ended up with a run of under par cards for a 271 (65-71-68-67) and won $11,500 then immediately left to catch his flight to France on his way to the European Masters in Switzerland set next week.
Lascuña’s triumph, his first on the ADT, this being the 14th leg of Asian Tour’s farm circuit and co-staged by the ADT and Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc., also capped the Filipinos’ sweep of the three ADT titles held in the country this year with Elmer Salvador winning the ADT ICTSI Riviera Classic at Langer last May and Rufino Bayron clinching his maiden win at ADT ICTSI Orchard Championship last June.
It was also Lascuña’s fourth win this season, including his romps at ICTSI Eagle Ridge, ICTSI Valley Golf and ICTSI Negros Occidental legs of the Philippine Golf Tour.
Thai Pijit Petchkasem, who joined Lascuña and Que in the championship flight with a 68 Friday, lost his way while trying to match the local aces’ hot start, fumbling with a 38 and finishing with a 73, enabling compatriot Rattan Wannasrichan to seize third place at 275 after a 70 worth $7,000.
Petchkasem slid to joint fourth with compatriot Poosit Supupramai, who had a 68, and second round leader Brett Munson of the US, who made a 71, for 277. Each got $4,566. Ireland’s Niall Turner took solo seventh at 279 after a 67 while Jhonnel Ababa, who shared the lead with Que in the first round with a 65, rallied with a 70 to finish tied for eighth at 280 with Miguel Tabuena, who carded a 71, Singapore’s Koh Deng Shan, who shot a 69, and Taiwanese Hsieh Tung-shu, who turned in a 71.