JUVIC Pagunsan picked up an easy win in Murcia ahead of his title defense in nearby Marapara next week, outclassing an international field with a seven-stroke romp on Saturday in the P2.5 million ICTSI Bacolod Golf Challenge.
Four shots ahead of Rufino Bayron and Marcos Pastor at the start of the final round, Pagunsan actually staggered with a one-over card after six holes, enabling the Spanish ace to pull within one with birdies on Nos. 2 and 5 and a slew of the others to close in with their own fine starts.
But Pagunsan quickly put an end to their threat as he rediscovered his touch, hitting three straight birdies from No. 7 to go three-up again on Pastor before putting the outcome beyond doubt with a birdie on the 12th and another three-birdie binge from No. 14.
“I was a bit nervous at the start but after I birdied No. 7, I kind of regained my confidence and got my game back,” said Pagunsan, who finished with a 20-under 260 that included 68 and 65 in the first two rounds before seizing firm control with a 63 Friday, in Filipino.
The victory, worth P450,000, marked the Japan PGA Tour-based shotmaker’s return to the circuit put up by ICTSI and gives him a big boost ahead of the Negros Occidental Classic which he won in a plyoff with Jobim Carlos last year.
Four up over his nearest pursuer after 12 holes, the Asia’s former No. 1 still went for more, birdying Nos. 14, 15 and 16 from close range then parred the last two to complete the big romp in the P2.5 million championship which served as the second of a four-stage Visayan swing of the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
“I always give my 100 percent even when I have a big lead. I take my game seriously that’s why some, even my co-players, have mistakenly find me snobbish and conceited. But that’s really my style. When I’m on the course, my mindset is to stay focused because you develop bad habits if you don’t,” said Pagunsan.
Bayron hit just one birdie in 12 holes but gunned down three in the next five and took solo second at 267 despite a bogey on the 18th for a 67 for his best finish, worth P320,000, since winning at Orchard in 2014.
Ira Alido, who had hoped to slug it out with Pagunsan after a second round 65, mounted his own fightback with an eagle-spiked 66, finishing tied for third with Richard SInfuego at 269. They split the combined P320,000 purse
Sinfuego also ended a string of poor finishes on the Philippine Golf Tour with a closing five-under card sparked by four birdies at the front while Australia’s Fidel Concepcion likewise rode on a four-under card at the front then hit another birdie on No. 15 only to reel back with a double-bogey on the 17th for a 67. He placed solo fifth at 270.