JUVIC Pagunsan turned what was expected to be a fierce final round duel with fellow Japan PGA Tour campaigner Angelo Que into a victory walk, cutting loose with an early run of birdies and cruising to a whopping seven-shot romp in the ICTSI Riviera Golf Challenge at the Langer course in Silang, Cavite.
The former Asian Tour No. 1 led by four after 54 holes then hiked his lead to seven with three birdies in the first 10 and not even rare three-shot swing on No. 14 could rattle him.
Que birdied the par-4 14th, which Pagunsan double bogeyed on an errant drive, to cut the lead back to four, only to yield the same number of strokes on the par-5 16th on a reverse double bogey-birdie swing.
That paved the way for Pagunsan’s march to a championship in his first Philippine Golf Tour Asia event, closing out with an even par 70 for a 72-hole total of six-under 278.
“I played solid at the front. Though I wavered at the finish, I kept my cool knowing I’ve got a huge lead,” said Pagunsan,” who received the top prize of $17,500 (around P920,000) from organizing Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. executive director Narlene Soriano during awards rites of the penultimate leg of the 10-stage second season of the region’s newest circuit put up by ICTSI and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
The victory was his second since marking his return to the local circuit with a playoff victory over Jobim Carlos in PGT Bacolod last August, a big boost ahead of next week’s Solaire Philippine Open at The Country Club.
“It’s really tough chasing Juvic when he’s in the lead. He’s so good,” said Que of his fellow former national team mainstay.
Lexus Keoninh of the US emerged as the top foreign placer, finishing tied at fourth at 289 with veteran local campaigner Elmer Salvador with identical 72s while Jay Bayron shot a 70 to snare solo sixth at 290.
Pro Nilo Salahog struck back with a 69 on two birdies in the last four to share seventh place with Matt Killen of England (71), Thai Sutijet Kooratanapisan (73) and Rico Depilo (74) at 291 in the event backed by Custom Clubmakers, Meralco, K&G Golf Apparel, BDO, Sharp, KZG, PLDT, Empire Golf and Sports and M.Y. Shokai Technology, Inc.