Tony Lascuna flubbed a birdie try from 12 feet on the last hole but still held on to a two-stroke lead over Angelo Que and Thai Pijit Petchkasem as erstwhile leader Brett Munson wavered coming home to close in on his first Aboitiz Invitational crown at the Riviera Golf and Country Club in Silang, Cavite on Friday.
Faced with a tough, uphill birdie putt, Lascuna cracked and misread the allowance, the final par giving him a 34 and a 67 for a 54-hole haul of 14-under 202, two strokes ahead of Que and Petchkasem, who turned in identical four-under 68s for 204s in another day of low scoring at the Couples layout.
The in-form Lascuna, who started the day one shot behind Munson and tied with Jhonnel Ababa, outgunned his rivals in the featured flight and surged ahead with a flawless 33. He hit two more birdies on Nos. 11 and 12 but ended his bogey-free run after 48 holes with a three-putt miscue on No. 13 from 16 feet.
Still, he recovered the stroke with a birdie on the 16th and stayed ahead of the pack despite that final hole miss as Que settled for pars in the last six holes and Petchkasem ran out of holes after making a late charge with three birdies in the last six holes.
“I have been driving great for three days now. For me, it is an important part of my game because a good one will reward me with a nice set-up for a birdie,” said Lascuna, who, however, opted to downplay his chances for a first-ever ADT title in the event co-staged by the ADT and the Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
“I don’t want to think about winning yet. I just want to concentrate on my game tomorrow (today). Hopefully, I can continue to play like how I did in the first three rounds,” said the 43-year-old Davaoeño.
Rattanon Wannasrichan, also of Thailand, rallied with three birdies in the last four holes and shot a 67 for a 205, while Munson, who took charge halfway through the $100,000 event sponsored by Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Inc. and backed by International Container Terminal Services, Inc., with a 66 Thursday, went two-under after 13 holes but bogeyed Nos. 14 and 15 and tumbled down to fifth at 206.
Swede Nils Floren turned in the day’s best – a bogey-free 66 to seize solo sixth at 207 while Miguel Tabuena hit three birdies at the back to fire a 70 and move to joint seventh at 209 with Taiwan’s Hsieh Tung-shu, who shot a 67, and Thait Poosit Supupramai, who sputtered with a 73.
Ababa never recovered from a frontside 37 and limped with a 75 to drop to joint 10th with Scot James Byrne, who won last week’s ADT leg in Jakarta, who failed to sustain his second round 64 with a 71.
Que actually matched Lascuna’s frontside 33, pitching in from 20 yards to start his round. But like in the opener where he shot 30 but slowed with a 35 for a 65, he settled for just one birdie at the back while saving pars in the last three after missing the green.
“Maybe I got a bit tired in the end. Overall, though, I was okay. So excited to be in Lascuna’s flight again. We know so well our game and have so much respect with each other. It is going to be tough as he is really a tough opponent,” Que said.
But Petchkasem looms as a key contender for the top $17,500 purse with the Thai ace hoping to sustain his fightback from a bogey on No. 2 with five birdies as he slugs it out with the country’s aces in the championship flight.