Tony Lascuna went on an early birdie-binge and shot a five-under 67, pulling away by five strokes over Miguel Tabuena, Rufino Bayron and Cassius Casas and moving 18 holes away from retaining the ICTSI Manila Southwoods Championship crown at the Southwoods’ Legends course in Carmona, Cavite on Friday.
Two up on Casas halfway through the P2.5 million 11th leg of the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour, Lascuna birdied the first five holes in impressive fashion and made the turn at six-under 30, posting leads of as many as seven over Casas and Bayron.
Though he wavered with a one-over 37 card at the back, the dusky Davaoeño shotmaker remains way ahead of the pack at 19-under 199, five ahead of Tabuena, who fired a 67, Bayron, who shot a 69, and Casas, who carded an eagle-spiked 70, for 12-under 204s – and closer to keeping the crown he won over Angelo Que last year.
“I’m in the lead, that’s my advantage. I’ll just play my usual game tomorrow (today),” said Lascuna in Pilipino.
Five strokes behind after 36 holes, Tabuena turned in his best card in three days – a bogey-free 67 – but the ICTSI Sherwood Hills winner still stood from where he started at the end of the day – five shots behind.
“Against Tony (Lascuna), I have to go very low (today). No more, no less,” said Tabuena, who birdied Nos. 3, 7, 8, 14 and 17.
Bayron, still chasing a maiden pro win in four years, went 13-under with a birdie from close range on the 17th but bogeyed the par-4 18th for the second straight day and missed grabbing solo second. He wound up with a 69.
Casas, who sparked hopes of a big weekend for the country’s former No. 1 when he opened with a pair of 67s, drove out of bounds on the first hole to reel back but fought back with an 8-foot eagle putt on the par-5 No. 6 and hit four birdies against two bogeys to salvage a 70.
While Tabuena said he would need a spectacular round to overhaul a five-shot deficit and nail a second crown in the circuit sponsored by ICTSI, Casas simply said it can still be done but refused to say how.
Orlan Sumcad, the long hitter from Malarayat, nearly matched Lascuna’s sizzling frontside stint with a 31 and finished with a 35 for the day’s best 66. He had a 205 and tied Jhonnel Ababa, who shot a 67, at fifth.
Elmer Salvador, who rallied with a 66 after an opening 73, fired a 68 and joined Gerald Rosales and Frankie Minoza, who both had 68s, at eighth at 207, eight strokes behind the frontrunning defending champion.
Lascuna actually turned a bit cold after a hot start, hitting an errant drive into the fairway bunker on the short par-4 11th and dumped his approach shot into the greenside bunker then overshot the green for bogey.
“I was really off that hole,” said Lascuna, who, however, birdied the par-5 14th but dropped another stroke on the par-3 16th before holing out with back-to-back pars.