Tony Lascuna whisked off Carl Santos-Ocampo with an early burst of birdies then went on to shoot a bogey-free six-under 66 and storm to a four-stroke lead over Angelo Que in the third round of the P2.5 million ICTSI Orchard Golf Championship at the Player Course in Dasmariñas, Cavite on Friday.
Back in top form after struggling early in the season with back injury, Lascuna was in complete control of his game from tee to green for the second straight time, rattling off four birdies at the front then adding two more at the back to duplicate his second round 66 and pull away from the star-studded field.
His impressive 14-under 202 put the reigning ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour Order of Merit champion four shots clear of Que, who matched Lascuna’s opening 32 for a 67 and took the challenger’s role at 206 after erstwhile joint leader Santos-Ocampo struggled to finish with a 72.
But the Filipino-American’s three-day haul of 208 kept him a spot in today’s championship flight although Santos-Ocampo will have a lot of catching up to do to figure for the top P450,000 against two of the country’s most feared and seasoned players.
“My chipping and putting were superb,” said Lascuna, who birdied the first two holes inside 14 feet, added another four-footer on the seventh before rolling in a difficult pin-high sidehiller on No. 9.
He knocked down another birdie from 16 feet on the 12th then barely holed out with an eagle on the par-5 18th from around seven feet off a superb 4-iron shot from 210 yards.
“It’s going to be fun going up against familiar faces in the final flight,” added Lascuna, referring to Santos-Ocampo and Que, whom he exchanged high five after the penultimate round of the 72-hole championship sponsored by ICTSI.
After a 69 and 70, Que added a sizzling five-under 67, highlighted by four birdies at the front but marred by back-to-back bogeys from No. 10. The three-time Asian Tour leg winner and former Philippine Open champion, however, rebounded with three birdies in the last seven holes to gain a crack at the crown in the event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
“Here we go again, chasing him (Lascuna) again,” said Que, referring to the Davaoeño shotmaker who is coming off a four-shot romp at ICTSI Calatagan two weeks ago. “I have to get rid of bogeys to increase my chances of winning.”
Santos-Ocampo needed to birdie the last two holes, including the last despite overshooting the green, his ball landing near the scoreboard, to salvage a 72 and join Lascuna and Que in the final group.
Richard Sinfuego carded a 70 and moved to fourth with a 210, eight shots behind, while Juvic Pagunsan finally found his rhythm and matched Lascuna and Que’s 66 although he stood too far behind at 211 in a tie with ICTSI John Hay champion Jay Bayron and Michael Bibat, who shot 69 and 73, respectively.
Miguel Tabuena, winner at ICTSI Sherwood, matched par 72 and dropped to joint eighth with Mars Pucay, who made a 70, at 212 while Clyde Mondilla fired a 69 for a 214.