Tony Lascuña put on a dazzling show of iron play and putting and produced a record-equaling 10-under 62, leading the assault on the Manila Southwoods’ Legends course that lay defenseless in the absence of the wind at the start of the ICTSI Manila Southwoods Championship in Carmona, Cavite on Thursday.
Lexus Keoninh earlier raced ahead of the 110-player pack with a 63 that also featured 10 birdies against a bogey until Lascuña confidently rolled in two long putts on Nos. 17 and 18 to cap a brilliant bogey-free 31-31 card that shoved him past the American in the early going of the $60,000 event sponsored by ICTSI.
“I just couldn’t do anything wrong with my irons. It seemed that every shot I took would land on the same, near spot where I wanted. And I made the birdie chances,” said Lascuña, who gunned down five birdies on each side inside six feet, except on No. 3 where he chipped in from about 20 feet.
Twenty eight others broke par in ideal morning conditions as the elite field tamed the layout’s last line of defense with superb putting with Jobim Carlos firing a 65 and Elmer Salvador leading a five-player group at fourth with 66s. They include American Nicolas Paez, Aussie Nathan Park and local Zanieboy Gialon.
Even amateur Ryan Monsalve joined the birdie-spree, hitting four straight from No. 12 then spiking his impressive start with an eagle-3 on No. 8 to crowd the six-under scorers.
Lascuña’s 62 actually stood as a provisional lead after at least 30 players were left stranded after play was stopped for nearly three hours due to lightning and heavy rains minutes after the early starters came in with those run of under-par scores.
Miguel Tabuena, back in the hunt after skipping last week’s Orchard Championship following a stirring come-from-behind playoff victory over South African Mathiam Keyser, missed joining the 66 scorers with a bogey on the par-3 16th, settling for a 67 in a tie with Albin Engino, Japanese Hirotaro Naito, Gerald Rosales and Clyde Mondilla.
Also a pre-tournament favorite after finishing second at Orchard, Mondilla rattled off seven birdies to negate a two-bogey mishap while the long-hitting Rey Pagunsan blew a tournament-best 30 start with bogeys on Nos. 14 and 17 and dropped to joint 15th with Frankie Miñoza, Mhark Fernando and rookie pro Ira Alido with 68s.
Four shot 69s, including Jhonnel Ababa, while five carded 70s, including Dutch Guido Van der Valk and Jay Bayron, while another four churned out identical 71s as the morning group took advantage of wind-less condition in the event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. and backed by ICTSI, BDO, KZG, Custom Clubmakers, Meralco, Sharp, Champion, Summit Mineral Water and PLDT.
Despite his 62, which tied American John Michael O’Toole’s feat in this same tournament last year where no local player finished no better than 13th, Lascuña said he could’ve reset the record if not for his flubbed birdie tries on Nos. 4 (seven feet) and 13 (four feet).
Still, he remains upbeat of sustaining his hot start all the way to the finish.
“I think this will be the trend till Saturday. Hopefully, I can continue this run,” said Lascuña, winner at Manila Masters last month, who closed out with a 12-footer on No. 17 and a 16-footer on the last.
Like Lascuña, Keoninh proved near-flawless from tee to green, matching the leader’s backside 31 before finishing with a 32, highlighted by three closing birdies.
“I nailed everything today (yesterday), I guess. Driving was great and iron shots fell into place for birdie chances,” said the 25-year-old Keoninh, who tied for 22nd at Orchard.
He went six-under with a tap-in birdie on No. 1 but ran into trouble after dumping his approach shot into the greenside bunker on No. 4. He made a poor blast, missed the green and saved bogey from six feet.
“I would like to think that it was a nice bogey,” said Keoninh, who resumed his birdie-binge on the next before closing out with three from close range.