LIPA City, Batangas – Jay Bayron knocked down a brilliant approach shot for a tap-in birdie on the par-4 18th, sealing a second straight 67 on Thursday and surviving Tony Lascuña’s fiery 63 to stay in the lead in the ICTSI Summit Point Classic.
Bayron warded off the challenge of Korean Park Jun Hyeok and Elmer Salvador but barely withstood Lascuña’s assault with a key birdie on the final hole, keeping a one-stroke lead heading to the final 18 holes of the P1.5 million event.
With a 17-under aggregate of 199 after 54 holes, Bayron could’ve easily pulled away from the pack but Lascuña, in a flight ahead of the last group, dished out a near-impeccable game under the lift-clean-place format but failed to draw level with a muffed eight-footer for birdie on the 18th.
Still, his 200 total put him well within range of a third leg win after snapping a long season spell with victories at Apo and in the ICTSI Classic last month.
“Tony is in top form. I need to shoot a 66 to win,” said Bayron, who has had a number of setbacks while disputing the crown with the reigning three-time Philippine Golf Tour Order of Merit champion.
“If ever, this would be the first time Jay would beat me in the final flight,” said Lascuña, without sounding a bit pessimistic of his title chances in the 12th leg of the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Behind solid driving and iron game and superb putting, Lascuña rattled off 10 birdies from close range after 16 holes and overcame a five-shot deficit to tie Bayron at 17-under. He actually surged ahead after Bayron failed to clear the bunker at the par-3 17th and failed to return an eight-footer for par.
But Lascuña also bogeyed the 195-yard hole after his 5-iron tee shot rolled past the pin. Instead of putting from the fringe, he opted for a chip shot, the ball rolling past the hole and resting seven feet away. He missed.
“I could’ve putted from the fringe and settled for par,” rued Lascuña, who birdied the first two holes, strung up three straight from No. 4, rattled off another three-birdie string from No. 9, and gunned two more on Nos. 15 and 16.
Jhonnel Ababa, another Davaoeno, will be third man in the championship flight, just three strokes adrift at 202 after a 67. But with the way Bayron and Lascuña have been dishing out low rounds, Ababa will need to turn in a spectacular game to snatch the top P270,000 purse.
Rufino Bayron fired a 66 to tie Salvador, who settled for 70, at 204 while Park failed to sustain a two-birdie start after four holes and carded a 71 to drop to solo sixth at 205.
Orlan Sumcad also slowed down with a 72 after a 67 and 68 and slid to seventh at 207, Cassius Casas and Miguel Tabuena shot identical 70s to share eighth at 208 while Junro Mamaril turned in a 67 for a 210 and solo 10th.