Clyde Mondilla pulled through in a tight, pressure-packed finish and stunned fancied Tony Lascuña and a slew of veteran rivals with a clutch eagle on No. 15 to snatch the ICTSI Tournament Players Championship crown by one at the Sherwood Hills Golf Club in Trece Martirez, Cavite on Saturday.
Mondilla’s late-hole brilliance put a perfect ending to ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour’s 2015 season where the young Del Monte ace worked his way back from two strokes down in second-to-last flight with an early burst of birdies then bounced back from a bogey mishap on No. 12 with a birdie on the next and a six-foot eagle off a solid 6-iron second shot from 196 yards to claim the hotly-contested crown and the top P650,000 purse.
Mondilla’s closing 67 capped a run of under-par scores that included a 70 and back-to-back 69s for a 13-under 275 in the P3.5 million event sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc.
“This is a big birthday gift and I’ll save the money for my future,” said Mondilla, whose winnings was five times more than what he earned when he scored a breakthrough win at ICTSI Canlubang last year. He turns 22 on November 27.
True to his worth, Lascuña eased out erstwhile co-leader Michael Bibat early and shook off Orlan Sumcad’s gritty frontside stand with a solid three-under card after 10 holes. But the veteran shotmaker sputtered with a bogey on No. 11 and flubbed a couple of birdie chances down the stretch, including a 10-foot downhiller on the 18th to the delight of Mondilla’s supporters but to the chagrin of Lascuña’s fans.
“I misread the putt and failed to come up with the right allowance to the right,” said Lascuña, who also finished with four under-par rounds of two 70s and two 68s for 276 total worth P430,000. But his bogey and seven pars in the last eight holes typified his final round struggle in the last three legs of the circuit that saw him limp with a 79 in the last day at ICTSI Open at Wack Wack, blow a four-shot lead and lose by four to Miguel Tabuena.
He also faltered in the final day at Central Azucarera de Tarlac Open, carding a 72 and finishing a dismal 12th that cost him the Order of Merit title. Tabuena also took the CAT crown and nailed his first OOM title.
“I actually had a good start and was on target but missed a couple of birdie putts in the closing holes. I gave it my best but that’s golf,” said Lascuña, who has dominated the last three seasons of the circuit organizing by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. but had to settle for second overall with the young Tabuena emerging as this year’s No. 1.
ICTSI head of Public Relations Narlene Soriano awarded the trophies and prizes for the year’s top achievers, including Tabuena, represented by uncle and renowned singer Martin Nievera, who finished the season with P3,051,917 in winnings and took another P50,000 for winning the OOM crown.
While at least four to five players moved in contention midway of the final round, only Lascuña and Mondilla carried the fight into last nine holes with Lascuña keeping Mondilla at bay behind with a birdie on No. 10 to regain a two-stroke lead.
He, however, bogeyed the next, but re-took a two-shot edge as Mondilla dropped a stroke on No. 12. But as Lascuña missed birdie putts on two of the next four holes, Mondilla buried a birdie from eight feet on No. 13 to move within one then surged ahead with that grab-leading eagle on the 15th.
Aware of his young rival’s surge, Lascuña went for broke in the last two holes but again missed on his birdie bid, enabling Mondilla to scoot away with the crown.
Jay Bayron fired the day’s best bogey-free seven-under 65 but the overnight eight-shot deficit proved too big for him to overcome as the ICTSI Summit champion settled for solo third at nine-under 279. He pocketed P240,000.
Orlan Sumcad, who joined Lascuña and Bibat in the championship flight, pressed his bid for a breakthrough win with a 34 start and tied Lascuña and Mondilla at 10-under after 12 holes. But the long-hitting pro reeled back with back-to-back bogeys from No. 13 and finished with a 72 and wound up joint fourth with Bibat and Elmer Salvador at 280. Each got P165,000.
Bibat, who completed a career-best bogey-free feat after 36 holes, failed to rebound from a so-so third round 72, fumbling with five bogeys against three bogeys for a 74 while Salvador birdied the first three holes at the back but dropped a stroke on the par-5 15th and missed joining Bayron at third with a 70.
Rey Pagunsan carded a 71 to place seventh at 281, Arnold Villacencio shot a 70 for eighth at 283 while early contenders Casas and Jhonnel Ababa fumbled with a 73 and 76, respectively, and ended up joint ninth with Anthony Fernando and Dutch Guido Van der Valk, who both had 71s, at 284.
Other backers of the circuit were Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Callaway, Srixon, Mizuno, TaylorMade, Nike Golf, Sharp, Custom Clubmakers, Titleist, Rudy Project, Pacsports, Omnisource, Cleveland Golf, KZG, FootJoy, Silicon, Empire and Great Depot.