Tony Lascuña birdied the three par-5s to negate a triple-bogey mishap on No. 5 but his first over-par card in three days – a 72 – still put him eight strokes clear of Michael Bibat and three others and closer to the ICTSI Forest Hills Championship crown at the Forest Hills Golf and Country Club in Antipolo on Friday.
Just when his rivals tried to cash in on his early mishap, Lascuña used his power off the tee and solid iron play and putting to nail birdies on Nos. 6, 10 and 16, his missed green bogey on No. 15 marring his brilliant recovery but failing to stop him from virtually nailing his third leg victory on the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour.
“I gambled on my approach shot on No. 5 but my 6-iron fell short into the hazard,” said Lascuña, whose three-putt miscue compounded his misadventure on the par-4 fifth hole.
Still, it hardly mattered in a day of soaring scores at the tough par-71 layout as Lascuña pooled a 54-hole aggregate of 12-under 201, spiked by an opening 65 and a solid 64, and went unassailably ahead after Bibat hobbled with a three-over 74, Jay Bayron and Marvin Dumandan matched par 71s and Orlan Sumcad fired a one-under 70 for identical 212s.
Bibat, who started the round six shots off Lascuña, closed to within three with a 34 after nine holes but he stumbled with a double-bogey on No. 12 and fumbled with three more bogeys against a birdie in the last seven holes.
Bayron also failed to put it all together, shooting three birdies but making the same number of bogeys, while the long-hitting Dumandan rattled off four birdies but had a double bogey and two bogeys, the last on No. 17 costing him the hold of solo second heading to the final 18 holes of the P2 million championship sponsored by ICTSI.
Sumcad, one of the tour’s noted power-hitters, turned in one of three best cards of 33 at the front, went three-under with another birdie on No. 10 but struggled while tackling the tough pin placements in the closing holes. He bogeyed Nos. 12 and 15, birdied the 16th but holed out with another bogey for that 70.
Mars Pucay also fired a 33 at the front but the 2010 champion here closed out with a double-bogey and settled for a 71 and a 211 in a tie with veteran Danny Zarate, who rallied with a 34 for a 70.
Zanieboy Gialon, who fought back with a 65 midway through the event backed by Custom Clubmakers, adidas, KZG, Summit Mineral Water, Srixon, Pacsports, TaylorMade, Sharp and Champion, birdied No. 18 for a 70 to gain a share of eighth with Rene Menor, who
strung up four-straight birdies from No. 11 to turn in a 70 for 212.
Clyde Mondilla, earlier tipped to slug it out with Lascuña in their pursuit of a third leg win in the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc., groped for form at the back and made a 38 for a 73. He dropped to solo 10th at 213, 12 strokes off the pace.
Despite his huge lead, the 46-year-old Lascuña remains wary of his chances for a follow-up to his earlier wins at Luisita and Eagle Ridge, saying no lead is safe at the Forest Hills layout.
“I like my chances but I can’t get too complacent. I still have to put in a solid round to secure the win since this course is tough and punishes wayward shots and poor decisions,” said Lascuña.