TONY Lascuna added a four-under 68 to his opening 64 and remained two strokes clear after two rounds of the Manila Southwoods Championship at Southwoods’ Legends course in Carmona, Cavite.
Lascuna made a birdie-blast on the 18th for nines of 36-32 on Thursday and a two-day total of 12-under 132, two ahead of Cassius Casas.
Making up for poor driving with superb iron shots and steady putting, Lascuna actually got to five-under after back-to-back birdies from No. 7. But the reigning Order of Merit champion stumbled with a bogey on the ninth, failing to sink a bending six-footer.
Still, Lascuna remained on track for a second straight championship in the P2.5 million event.
“My driving was off, I lacked confidence, resulting to a lot of fade shots off the mound,” said Lascuña, who rolled in birdies at close range on Nos. 13, 16 and 17 in Pilipino. “It’s a good thing that I made a lot of putts for birdies.”
Lascuna will need more of those as the chase for the top P450,000 prize heats up in Friday’s pivotal third round with a fired-up Casas pooling his best 36-hole output in years and threatening at 10-under 134 after back-to-back five-under 67s.
“I miss the winning feeling,” said Casas, who dominated the local circuit in the late 90s and early 2000s but has been on a slump the last few years, his last victory coming two years ago at the Del Monte leg of the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour. “I’ve been practicing a lot and trying to be patient with my game.”
Rufino Bayron, still in search of a breakthrough win after humbling the pros as an amateur at ICTSI Valley in late 2009, closed out with four straight birdies for one of the day’s two best scores of six-under 66.
With a nine-under 135 aggregate, Bayron joins Lascuña and Casas in Friday’s final group.
Sherwood leg champion Miguel Tabuena also used a 32 at the back to fire a 68 but stood five strokes behind Lascuna at 137, while Jhonnel Ababa and Marvin Dumandan were at 138 after a 68 and 69, respectively.
Dante Becierra rallied with a 67 to join Ababa and Dumandan in sixth spot.
Mhark Fernando hobbled with a 73 after an opening 66, while Japanese Tomokazu Yoshinaga settled for par 72 after a 67. They were joined at 139 by Frankie Minoza (69), Gerald Rosales (71), Mars Pucay (68) and Elmer Salvador, who charged back from an opening 73 with a 66 in the tournament sponsored by International Container Terminals Services, Inc. and backed by Nike Golf, Srixon, Custom Clubmakers, Pacsports, Cleveland Golf, Callaway, Ping, Mizuno, Empire Golf and Sports Shop, FootJoy, Titleist, Sharp, BMW and Gergia Energy Foods.