TONY LASCUNA is 18 holes away from winning the Order of Merit, but he has declared the battle could be over in nine.
“If they can't cut my lead after the front nine tomorrow, then this will be mine," said Lascuna on Friday after shooting a third-round 71 to extend his lead to seven in the P2.5 million ICTSI Wack Wack Championship.
Lascuna is at eight-under 208 after 54 holes, while Angelo Que and Elmer Salvador were at 215.
Salvador, the only one who could beat Lascuna in the race to the top of the Order of Merit, also scored a 71 in another wind-blown day at Wack Wack’s East course.
The tournament offers P450,000 to the champion. Lascuna entered the tournament with P1,797,640 in earnings, while Salvador had P1,365,160. Salvador, who won the 2009 money title, needs no less than a victory and hopes that Lascuna slips lower than fifth spot.
Salvador, the ICTSI Sherwood and Aboitiz Invitational champion made an early charge and came up with a 33 on his first nine but struggled with a 37 on the way back for a 71.
Que, who entered the round in solo second and behind by six, traded four birdies for four bogeys and slipped to joint second.
Carl Santos-Ocampo, winner at Palos Verdes, hit a solid 32 at the front but had a 37 on the back for a 69 and moved up to solo fourth at 216, eight shots adrift.
Zanie Boy Gialon fumbled with a 74 and dropped to joint fifth at 218 with James Ryan Lam, who matched par 72.
Defending champion Frankie Miñoza scored a 71 for a 219 total in a tie with Clyde Mondilla, who made a 72.
"It's still too early to tell but if I win, it will be my third and it will make this year as my best year since I turned pro," said Lascuna, who ruled the ICTSI Eagle Ridge and Southwoods legs and finished second in two others.
Richard Sinfuego also fired a 71 as he tied Mhark Fernando, who had a 75, at 221.
Juvic Pagunsan, last year’s top money earner on both the Philippine Golf Tour and Asian Tour, had a 79 and tumbled to joint 37th at 233 in the event backed by Empire Golf, Titleist, Footjoy, Callaway, TaylorMade, Mizuno, Srixon, Nike Golf, Custom Clubmakers and Sharp with Balls, Studio 23, Pinoygolfer.com and Inquirer Golf as media partners.