Carl Santos-Ocampo ended a yearlong wait for a second crown in a record of sorts—posting a second straight seven-under 65 to overwhelm Tony Lascuña and clinch the ICTSI Midlands crown with a whopping six-stroke victory at the Midlands layout in Tagaytay on Friday.
Santos-Ocampo rattled off four birdies in the first six holes to turn a shaky one-stroke lead over the reigning Order of Merit champion into a comfortable three-shot cushion at the turn then added three more birdies at the back to duplicate his 32-33 card the previous round and whip the star-studded field.
Counting his opening 70, the Fil-Am shotmaker finished with a 54-hole haul of 16-under 200 to outclass Lascuna, who tried—and failed – to match his explosive start with a 34 before closing out with a 36 and a 70 for a 10-under 206.
“It’s an amazing feeling to get the job done this week especially against the top Asian Tour Filipino players,” said Santos-Ocampo after pocketing the top P200,000 purse during awards rites graced by ICTSI Public Relations head Narlene Soriano, Tagaytay Highlands International Golf Club Inc. general manager Claire Kramer and THIGC senior sales manager Michelle Kloo.
What made the win doubly impressive was that Santos-Ocampo, who posted his maiden win at ICTSI Rancho Palos Verdes last year, did the feat without dropping a shot in the last 36 holes. Frankie Miñoza made one bogey in the last two rounds in winning the ICTSI Del Monte crown and dropped three strokes in the same stretch to dominate the ICTSI Pueblo de Oro leg both last July.
“He was simply amazing. Halos lahat ng palo solid, daming birdie putts (Most of his shots were solid and he had so many birdie chances),” said Lascuna, who settled for another runner-up finish worth P120,000 after losing the crown to Thai Sattaya Supupramai at ICTSI Classic early this month.
ICTSI Sherwood winner Miguel Tabuena rallied with a second 68 to finish tied for third at 207 with Garalde, who held his ground and wound up with a 70 for a rare top 3 finish in the circuit sponsored by ICTSI and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Jay Bayron, who came from behind to nip Tabuena in a playoff and capture the ICTSI John Hay crown, shot a 71 for solo fifth at 209 while Michael Bibat, who recorded his maiden win at ICTSI Rancho Palos Verdes, ended up sixth at 210 after a 70.
Rey Pagunsan appeared headed for a big finish in years with a two-under card after 11 holes only to fumbled with three bogyes in the last seven and hobbled with a 73. He dropped to joint seventh at 211 with Marvin Dumandan, who rallied with a 68, and Aboitiz Invitational back-to-back champion Elmer Salvador, who limped with a 73.
Rufino Bayron matched Santos-Ocampo’s fiery 65 to salvage a share of 10th with Benjie Magada and Nilo Salahog, who turned in 71 and 73, respectively, for 212s.
Santos-Ocampo’s flawless start turned what had seemed to be a wide open finish—with six others just two to four shots behind—into a one-man show as he put together superb shotmaking, solid iron play and exceptional putting.