CANLUBANG – Clyde Mondilla got back at Cassius Casas, winning the ICTSI Canlubang Golf Invitational crown by four over the defending champion and three others with a closing 69 as he finally joined the ranks of winners on the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour on Friday.
Unlike last year when he succumbed to pressure and bowed to the veteran Casas on the second playoff hole, Mondilla steeled himself and fended off his rivals with a solid start and a gutsy finish to clinch the victory on a 13-under 275 total at Cangolf’s North layout.
“It’s a nice feeling to win for the first time. I just hope this is the start of something big for me,” said the 20-year-old Mondilla, the former national champion who showed a lot of promise when he joined the pro ranks in 2012.
But it took him two years before nailing the elusive win although it proved sweeter, pocketing it by beating the very same player who denied him of the victory in heartbreaking fashion last year.
The win, worth P270,000, also came two weeks after he blew his chance at ICTSI Summit where he incurred a two-stroke penalty for violating a rule on the use of umbrella.
“I knew I had a solid chance at ICTSI Summit but blew it. The good thing was I was able to redeem myself here at Cangolf,” said Mondilla.
“I was really under pressure but I told myself to just stay focused and play serious golf,” added Mondilla, who stayed two ahead of Casas with a 34 with birdies on Nos. 2 and 7 at the turn before watching his pursuers fade with sputtering finishes.
Casas, winner at ICTSI Iloilo Challenge, pressed his bid with back-to-back birdies from No. 8 and moved within one with another birdie on No. 13. But Mondilla countered by birdying the par-5 14th for the fourth straight day and cruised to the win as Casas bogeyed Nos. 15 and 16.
Casas wound up with a 71, the same output put in by Arnold Villacencio, who made a 35 at the front but hobbled with two bogeys against two birdies at the back for 279s.
Marvin Dumandan and Dante Becierra rallied with identical 69s to force a four-way tie for second and share the combined P443,000 purse.
Charles Hong, who dominated the field at ICTSI Sherwood, carded a second 71 and finished sixth at 281 worth P60,000 while Jessie Balasabas, who led in the first two rounds of the event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc., failed to recover from a disastrous third round 75 with a 74 and ended up joint seventh with Micah Shin, who fired a 70, at 282, and shared the combined P93,500 purse.
Veteran Robert Pactolerin matched par 72 to finish ninth at 283 and took home P38,500 while Michael Bibat and ICTSI Royal Northwoods winner Zanie Boy Gialon turned in a 71 and 74, respectively, to tie for 10th at 284 worth P32,000 each in the penultimate leg of the 16-stage circuit backed by Nike Golf, Pacsports Phils. Inc., Srixon, Callaway, Mizuno, Empire Golf, Footjoy, Titleist, Custom Clubmakers, Sharp, KZG and Rudy Project.