Team South came away with a pair of emphatic 3-1 victories over North in the four-ball and foursomes on Thursday and stormed into a six-point lead, 11-5, heading to today’s deciding singles matches in The Duel 3—North vs. South at the Cebu Country Club in Cebu City.
Jhonnel Ababa capped his perfect campaign in all four matches with a victory over North’s Randy Garalde and Benjie Magada as teammate Elmer Salvador banged in a delicate 14-foot par putt on No. 18 to preserve a 1-up win in the afternoon foursomes.
Mhark Fernando and Jessie Balasabas led South’s charge in the alternate-shot format duels with a 5&4 rout of Carl Santos-Ocampo and Jun Rates while Cassius Casas, in tandem with Elmer Saban, also went three-for-three with a 4&3 romp over Mars Pucay and Angelo Que.
Michael Bibat and Gerald Rosales produced the lone afternoon win for Team North with a 2-up victory over Marvin Dumandan and Clyde Mondilla, but it hardly slowed down the Southerners, who duplicated their equally impressive 3-1 romp in the morning fourball matches of the event sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, inc.
With a 6-2 win and its 5-3 triumph in Wednesday’s opener, South pulled away, 11-6, after two days of play, needing to win just three and a draw in today’s 12 singles matches to reclaim the crown it won in 2012 but yielded last year.
“This is a good lead but we’re still not sure of our victory. We have to play solid to avoid a repeat of last year’s loss,” said South skipper Jerome Delariarte, referring to this wards’ final day fold-up at Alabang Country Club where they blew a four-point lead and lost by one when top player Juvic Pagunsan abandoned the team.
For North captain Artemio Murakami, he remains hopeful of his wards’ chances to dominate the singles duels of the event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
“Anything can happen. The important thing is not to give up,” said Murakami.
The soft-spoken Ababa proved to be South’s ace as the former amateur standout, a three-leg winner on the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour, won all his matches, teaming up with Casas in a 2&1 win over Garalde and Magade in best-ball and with Charles Hong in a 5&3 romp over Santos-Ocampo and Edward Reyes in alternate-shot on Wednesday.
In morning four-ball matches, Dumandan and Tony Lascuna ripped the Bibat- Rosales pair, 3&1, to cap the Southerners’ domination of their Northern counterparts that saw Jay Bayron and Casas trounce Que and Reyes, 4&2, and Ababa and Salvador edge the James Ryan Lam-Santos-Ocampo tandem, 2&1.
Miguel Tabuena and Jun Rates, who won one match and drew the other in Wednesday’s opener of the three-day event pitting local tour’s best players from the North against those from the South, saved the day for the defending champion North squad as they nip the Hong-Frankie Miñoza duo, 2&1.