Tony Lascuña pulled through with a near-impeccable closing two-under 70, beating American Nicolas Paez by two for the ICTSI Wack Wack crown as erstwhile joint leaders Zanieboy Gialon, Thai Pasavee Lertvilai and Justin Quiban crumbled in a pressure-packed finale at Wack Wack’s East course on Saturday.
Lascuña, who missed forcing a four-way tie for the lead with a final-hole bogey Friday, surged ahead with back-to-back birdies from No. 2 in second-to-last flight then held sway to the finish, banging in a clutch birdie putt on No. 14 then rattling off a slew of gutsy pars to match the rallying Paez’s two-under card.
He wound up with a two-under 286 and pocketed the top $17,500 purse, keeping the Filipinos’ domination of the first four legs of the inaugural Philippine Golf Tour Asia put up by ICTSI after Miguel Tabuena (Southwoods), Rene Menor (Splendido) and Clyde Mondilla (Riviera).
“It’s nice to win again. But I had to work hard to put myself back into contention,” said Lascuña, who rushed back to the range after trailing Gialon by five halfway through the $100,000 event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
“I also polished my putting stroke, medyo magalaw kasi. And when I pulled to within one after the third round, I knew I had a chance,” added the multi-titled veteran campaigner, who bounced back from a missed green bogey on No. 12 with a birdie from six feet on No. 14.
As Gialon, Lertvilai and Quiban all broke down in their hunt for birdies and pars in the featured flight and tumbled down the leaderboard, Paez took the challenger’s role but ran out of holes after stringing three straight birdies from No. 15. He settled for second with an even 288 and snatched the $11,500 runner-up prize.
Gialon, who went 3-up over Quiban after 36 holes, stayed on top with a birdie on No. 2 but slipped with three straight bogeys from No. 5 and faded after yielding another stroke on the 15th while missing a couple of birdie chances. He limped with a 75, the same output put in by Lertvilai, who failed to check a roller-coaster round marked by three birdies but marred by four bogeys and a double bogey.
Unheralded Rolando Marabe Jr. birdied three of the last six holes to save a 72 and tie Gialon and Lertvilai at 290. Each received $5,666.
Worse was Quiban, who never recovered from a bogey-bogey start and closed out the backside with four bogeys for a 77. He tumbled to joint sixth at 292 with Michael Bibat and Jobim Carlos, who carded identical 72s.
Jhonnel Ababa fired a 71 to finish ninth at 293 while Jelbert Gamolo turned in a 74, Aussie Marcus Both made a 76 and James Lam stumbled with a 77 for a share of 10th at 295 in the event backed by Custom Clubmakers, Meralco, Champion, Summit Mineral Water, K&G Golf Apparel, BDO, Sharp, KZG, PLDT and M.Y. Shokai Technology, Inc.
While the erstwhile joint leaders succumbed to final round pressure, Lascuña showed poise and class in putting up a strong start then went for conservative play on one of the country’s toughest courses after wresting control to finally nail the PGTA title after three failed bids.
It was also the former many-time PGT Order of Merit winner’s third championship this year, including the Manila Masters at Eastridge last April and the Forest Hills Championship last June.
He shoots for another two weeks from now when action in the region’s newest circuit shifts to Luisita Golf and Country Club in Tarlac for the Central Azucarera de Tarlac Open.