North checked another impending skid with a cluster of victories from the lesser lights and finally stopped South, 13 1/2-10 1/2, to clinch The Duel – North vs South 5 crown at the Camp John Hay Golf Club in Baguio on Friday.
The Northerners dominated the team play (fourballs and foursomes) in the first two days and took a three-point lead heading the 12 singles matches with Miguel Tabuena going 3-for-3 with a tough 1-up escape over Orlan Sumcad in the first match.
But Team South, which rallied from five down to snare the last Duel title in 2015 with a dominating 9-3 romp in singles, looked headed for another reversal when it took four of the next five matches to pull within half-a-point.
But Randy Garalde, James Ryan Lam, Michael Bibat and Mars Pucay upended their respective fancied rivals to deliver the crucial victories for North, which forced a 6-6 draw in singles to complete the three-point victory in the local version of the Ryder Cup sponsored by ICTSI.
Garalde, still winless on the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour, also went undefeated, humbling recent Calatagan leg winner Zanieboy Gialon, 5&3; Lam took the last two holes to stun two-leg winner Clyde Mondilla, 1-up; Bibat won Nos. 16 and 17 to trounce Rufino Bayron, 3&1; and Pucay won four in a five-hole stretch from No. 9 to whip Cassius Casas, 3&2.
North’s Gerald Rosales won No. 16 and went 1-up against Elmer Salvador but yielded the next before the duo halved the last hole for an all-square match, the same result posted by the Benjie Magada-Rene Menor in second-to-last face-off in the event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
For a while, Team South appeared on track for another explosive final day charge as Mhark Fernando and Jhonnel Ababa disposed of Ira Alido, 1-up, and Joenard Rates, 4&2, respectively in the second and third pairings.
Tony Lascuña and Jerson Balasabas followed suit with 3&2 and 5&3 romps over Keanu Jahns and Justin Quiban, respectively, before Rosales preserved North’s half-point lead with a draw against Salvador and secured the team’s second victory in the event backed by Aboitiz, KZG, PLDT, Custom Clubmakers, K&G, Sharp, Champion, BDO, Summit Mineral Water, Event Captain, Meralco and MY Shokai Technology, Inc.
South ruled the inaugurals of the Duel, held to foster camaraderie among the players from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, in 2012 but North struck back in 2013 before the former topped the next two editions.