CALATAGAN, Batangas – Tony Lascuna dispatched Juvic Pagunsan early then fended off a rallying Jhonnel Ababa with a bogey-free three-under 69 to post a four-shot victory in the P1 million ICTSI Calatagan Challenge at the Calatagan Golf Club on Friday.
Lascuna, two strokes ahead of Pagunsan at the start of the day, gained a two-shot swing right on the opening hole with a birdie on the par-5 hole to Pagunsan's bogey then birdied Nos. 5 and 6 for good measure on the way to a 54-hole total of nine-under 207.
The victory, worth P200,000, came two weeks after he struggled to finish eighth at the ICTSI Camp John Hay Championship in Baguio where he had to endure a nagging back injury that has stymied his campaign here and abroad early in the year.
“I feel good now although still not 100 percent,” said Lascuna, who won three legs and finished second four times on his way to winning the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour Order of Merit crown last year.
“I hope to reach my peak form in two weeks time,” he added, referring to the P2.5 million ICTSI Orchard Golf Championship on May 22-25 at The Orchard in Dasmariñas, Cavite, the fourth stage of this year’s 15-leg circuit sponsored by ICTSI.
Ababa, playing in the flight ahead of Lascuna, Pagunsan and Mars Pucay, rallied with a 31 at the back but ran out of holes and settled for a 68 and a runner-up finish at 211. He took home P120,000.
Ababa actually birdied the first two holes to move within four off Lascuna but fell behind again with bogeys on Nos. 4, 5 and 7, needing to come up with fiery windup to dislodge Pagunsan for runner-up honors in the event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Pagunsan did recover from his opening bogey with three birdies in the next seven holes but dropped another stroke on the ninth and stumbled with two bogeys and a double bogey against two birdies at the back for a 73. He ended up joint third with Pucay at 213.
Pucay, four behind Lascuna after 36 holes, matched Lascuna’s birdie start and moved within three with another birdie on the fourth. But he reeled back with back-to-back bogeys from No. 6 and had to rally with a 34 to salvage a 71 and a 213. He and Pagunsan split the combined P115,000 purse.
Unheralded Jomar Pepito fought back with a 68 and tied Rufino Bayron, who made a 70, at fifth in 217 while last year’s winner Mhark Fernando and Elmer Salvador carded a pair of 71s for joint seventh place at 218.
Jun Bernis shot a 71 to place ninth at 220 while Ruben Sasutil (74), Micah Shin (71), Cassius Casas (75) and Marvin Dumandan (71) ended up joint 10th at 221.