TONY Lascuña hit two late birdies at dusk for an eight-under 64 and a two-shot lead over Mhark Fernando and James Ryan Lam in the weather-delayed first round of the ICTSI Manila Southwoods Championship on Wednesday in Carmona, Cavite.
Lascuna, seeking an end to five runner-up finishes, birdied all the par-5 holes and strung up a pair of 32s, putting to naught a missed-green bogey mishap on No. 15 and setting in motion his back-to-back title bid in the P2.5 million tournament.
Fernando went on a birdie spree at the start, making four straight to open his round before hitting another birdie on the par-3 No. 7. He stumbled with a bogey on the par-5 No. 8 but gunned down two more at the back for a 66.
He was joined at second by Lam, who turned in his own version of a 66 with an eagle on the par-5 No. 15 and six other birdies against back-to-back bogeys from No. 11.
Lascuna, Fernando and Lam’s late charge relegated the erstwhile frontrunners to joint fourth as organizers let the field complete the round after a two-hour delay due to lightning.
Arnold Villacencio, who missed the cut in five of the first 10 legs of the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour, shot a 67 with birdies on Nos. 4, 8, 11, 13 and 15.
“This is my first time in a long while that I shot this good and I hope to keep this form until the final day,” said Villacencio, down at No. 41 in the Order of Merit.
No. 35 Rolando Marabe and No. 54 Joey Huerva also carded 67, as did Ferdie Aunzo, who has not won since topping the Royal Northwoods event in 2010.
Marabe leaned on his short game to come up with nines of 34-33, while Huerva bounced back strong after an opening bogey to card 33-34.
“Overall, I my around-the-green shots were okay and I could’ve scored lower if not for my missed birdie putts inside four feet on Nos. 2 and 16,” said Marabe, still in search for a breakthrough win on the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. and sponsored by International Container Terminals Services, Inc.
Cassius Casas and Japanese Tomokazu Yoshinaga also had 67s, while Gerald Rosales fired a 68 for solo 10th.
Frankie Miñoza, the only two-leg winner this year with back-to-back victories at Del Monte and Pueblo de Oro, bogeyed No. 16 and settled for a two-under 70, while Aboitiz Invitational back-to-back champion Elmer Salvador groped for form and hobbled with a 73 in the event also backed by Nike Golf, Srixon, Custom Clubmakers, Pacsports, Cleveland Golf, Callaway, Ping, Mizuno, Empire Golf and Sports Shop, FootJoy, Titleist, Sharp, BMW and Gergia Energy Foods.