Tony Lascuna tries to firm up his hold of the Order of Merit lead, end a string of runner-up finishes and make it as a repeat champion in the rich ICTSI Manila Southwoods Championship which unwraps on Wednesday at Southwoods’ Legends Course in Carmona, Cavite.
Lascuna has placed second or shared runner-up honors five times since running away with the ICTSI Calatagan Challenge crown last May, including last month’s ICTSI Tagaytay Midlands Challenge where he bowed and lost by six to young gun Carl Santos-Ocampo.
While Santos-Ocampo remains a hot favorite for this week’s crown owing to his dominant performance at Midlands where he shot two 65s and went without a bogey in the last 36 holes, Lascuna is still tipped as a strong title contender on a tournament he ruled in big fashion last year.
Lascuna outgunned Elmer Salvador and Angelo Que in a shootout stretching 12 holes to win by two on a 14-under 274 aggregate at Masters. He, however, sees a lower scoring total this time given the form of the competing field and the condition at the bunker-laden Legends layout.
“I think we can do better than 14-under at Legends. Everybody is in tip-top shape and eager to get going after a three-week break,” said Lascuna in Filipino.
Despite his failure to complete another victory run the last seven legs, Lascuna’s series of second place efforts proved enough to shove him past teener Miguel Tabuena in the OOM derby heading to the last five legs of the 15-stage circuit sponsored by International Container Terminal Services Inc. and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments Inc.
With earnings of P1,232,332, Lascuna wrested the lead from Tabuena, who slid to No. 2 with P1,191,527 winnings while Que and Salvador took the next two spots with P1,026,276 and P957,776, respectively.
But with P450,000 staked in this 72-hole championship, the title chase is expected to be fierce with fifth runner and ICTSI John Hay leg winner Jay Bayron out to improve his P778,870 earnings together with Santos-Ocampo, who has piled up P777,068.
Although at distant seventh with P493,936, Frankie Minoza is also fancied to get into the mix with the veteran campaigner also trying to become the first player to win three titles after scoring back-to-back victories at ICTSI Del Monte and ICTSI Pueblo de Oro.
Lascuna, Santos-Ocampo, Salvador, Minoza, Tabuena and the other leading pros, meanwhile, see action on Tuesday in the traditional pro-am with guests and officials from the event’s chief backers, including Nike Golf, Srixon, Custom Clubmakers, Pacsports, Cleveland Golf, Callaway, Ping, Mizuno, Empire Golf and Sports Shop, FootJoy, Titleist, Sharp and BMW.
Others in the fold are Jhonnel Ababa, Ferdie Aunzo, Rufino Bayron, Jun Bernis, Cassius Casas, Anthony Fernando, Zanieboy Gialon, Rey Pagunsan, Gerald Rosales and Richard Sinfuego.
After Southwoods, the tour will head back to Tagaytay for the ICTSI Splendido Classic at Splendido Golf Club on October 9 to 11 before Riviera hosts the 13th stage—the ICTSI Riviera Classic on October 16 to 19, another P2.5 million event. Canlubang will stage the penultimate leg on November 6 to 8 for the ICTSI Canlubang Golf Invitational before the circuit winds up again at Wack Wack for the ICTSI Wack Wack Championship on November 20 to 23, another 72-hole, P2.5 million tournament.