ANTIPOLO – Tony Lascuna moved on the threshold of his first victory on the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour this year when he more than doubled his overnight three-shot lead with a bogey-free 67 in the third round of the ICTSI Valley Golf Challenge at the Valley Golf Club on Friday.
Lascuna, fully recovered from a grueling three-week campaign on the Asian Tour, matched Cassius Casas early birdie-binge then watched the first day leader lose steam at the back to move to 13-under 203 for a seven-stroke lead over Casas and Jhonnel Ababa with 18 holes to play in the P2 million event.
“My driving and irons clicked and I made some clutch putts at the back,” said Lascuna. “I was expecting a shootout with Cassius but he kind of slowed down at the back.”
Casas, who seized control with an opening 68 but fell four strokes off Lascuna with a 72 halfway through, battled Lascuna in the first nine holes – shot for shot and putt for putt – as both made the turn with four-under 32s. But after they both birdied No. 11, Casas bogeyed the next, dropped another shot on No. 15 and holed out with another bogey.
Casas wound up with a 70 and joined Ababa, who carded a 71, at 210 with both players needing to shoot in the low 60s to possibly foil their fellow ace Davaoeno’s crack for glory.
Ababa, who started the day three off the pace, actually kept in step with Lascuna and Casas with three birdies in the first six holes but he bogeyed the par-5 seventh and fumbled with three more bogeys against two birdies at the back.
Carl Santos-Ocampo fired a 69 to move up to fourth at 211 while Micah Shin, runner-up to Charles Hong at Sherwood two weeks ago, rattled off three birdies at the back for a 69 and a 212 for fifth.
Mars Pucay stood a shot farther back at 213 after a 69 while Miguel Tabuena finally hit his stride and shot a sterling six-under 66 to join Orlan Sumcad (71), Albin Engino (72) and Elmer Saban (74) at seventh.
Tabuena finally flashed the form that made him as one of Philippine golf’s future stars as he birdied all four-par 5s and hit four more birdies to negate his bogeys on Nos. 1 and 15.
But nothing, it seems, could stop Lascuna from nailing the victory worth P360,000.
“It’s still a long way to go and a lot of good players are emerging, so I can’t be so sure. But I have to be always in tip-top shape to contend for the championship of each leg,” said Lascuna.