CEBU CITY – Team South proved stronger individually than in team play as it dominated the singles matches, 9-3, to put awaya lopsided 20-8 victory over the North squad and reclaim The Duel 3 crown at the Cebu Country Club on Friday.
Needing just three victories and a draw to wrap it all up after a dominant performance in the fourball and foursomes, the Southerners more than doubled their target as they showcased their individual talent to nail their second crown in three years after just six matches.
"What can I say, the guys wanted to get back the title," said non-playing South skipper Jerome Delariarte.
Jhonnel Ababa capped his flawless campaign in five matches with a 2-up victory over Randy Garalde in the seventh pairing although it came after Elmer Salvador had clinched the championship for South with a 1-up victory over Jun Rates for the needed four victories.
The Southerners moved unassailably ahead with an 11-5 lead after dominating the foursomes and fourball matches (5-3 and 6-2) in the first two days of the event sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc. and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournametns, Inc.
For a while, North appeared headed for a repeat of its stirring fightback from four points down last year by dominating the opening singles as Angelo Que and Carl Santos-Ocampo hacked out 3 & 2 and 2 & 1 victories over Mhark Fernando and Clyde Mondilla, respectively.
But Jessie Balasabas delivered the first point for Team South with a 4 & 3 romp over James Ryan Lam before Elmer Saban and Marvin Dumandan followed suit with 4 & 3 and 1-up wins over Gerald Rosales and Benjie Magada, respectively, before Salvador foiled Rates on the final hole.
Victories by Tony Lascuna, Jay Bayron and Charles Hong over Mars Pucay, 3 & 1, Edward Reyes, 4 & 3, and Michael Bibat, 5 & 4, respectively, sandwiched Jun Bernis' 4 & 3 triumph over Cassius Casas, before anchor Frankie Minoza downed young gun Miguel Tabuena, 4 & 3, to cap South’s lopsided victory.
"They played better," said North skipper Artemio Murakami.
"We're always the underdogs. But we'll try again next year," said Que.
The soft-spoken Ababa emerged the South’s best performer as the former amateur standout, a three-leg winner on tour, won all his matches, teaming up with Casas in a 2 & 1 win over Garalde and Magade in best-ball and with Charles Hong in a 5 & 3 romp over Santos-Ocampo and Edward Reyes in alternate-shot Wednesday.
It was but fitting that he got past Garalde to complete a perfect campaign and highlight Team South’s gem of a win over domination the North side.
"I just had a good week, I guess," said Ababa in Pilipino.