IT took Cassius Casas 11 years but the Davaoeño shotmaker did it, nailing his second The Country Club Invitational in big fashion, beating Tony Lascuña by one stroke on Sunday in Canlubang Laguna.
One shot behind Lascuña at the start of the day, Casas made back-to-back birdies from No. 4 to seize control then bucked a shaky finish to escape with the victory with a 69 and a 72-hole aggregate of seven-under 273.
“It’s been a long time but it’s nice to win again here. It took me 11 years to reclaim this crown,” said Casas, who ruled the inaugural staging of this top-level event in his peak in 2003 but failed to contend again after going on a slump.
“I really prepared hard for this tournament. I trained a lot to bring back my game. It’s all hard work,” said Casas after receiving the trophy and the P1.5 million prize from ICTSI chairman and CEO Ricky Razon.
Lascuna made birdie on No. 16 but couldn’t keep it going in the final two holes, allowing Casas to become only the third player to win the event more than once.
“I ran out of holes but Cassius played a solid game from start to finish,” said Lascuna, the 2004 champion who settled for runner-up honors and P700,000 after fumbling with a 71 for a 274 total.
Jhonnel Ababa fired a one-under 69 and snatched third place at 283 to bag P450,000.
Zanie Boy GIalon had a 71, Mars Pucay scored a 73, Rey Pagunsan carded a 79, and lady amateur Princess Superal turned in a 74 to share fourth place at 284.
Gialon, Pucay and Pagunsan shared the combined P765,000 prize.
Superal, Southeast Asian Games gold medalist and current top player of the ICTSI team, ran away with the low amateur honors in the 72-hole championship staged in honor of ICTSI founder Enrique “Don Pocholo” Razon Sr.
Jay Bayron scored the day’s best four-under 66 to salvage joint eight at 285 with Orlan Sumcad, who shot a 69.
Last year’s champion Frankie Miñoza wound up 10th at 286 after a 71.
Anthony Fernando carded a 72 and placed 11th at 277, while three-time winner Angelo Que failed to break par in four days and finished with a 73 for joint 12th at 288 with Rufino Bayron, who hobbled with a 75.
Michael Bibat placed 14th at 289 after a 74, followed by Elmer Salvador (72-290), Miguel Tabuena (74-293) and Mhark Fernando (74-294).