North stars pad lead to five, need to win just four of 12 singles matches against South to win The Duel
Joenard Rates checks the line of their putt as North teammate Miguel Tabuena looks on.

THE North rallied strong and swept the last three matches for a 4-2 victory in the foursomes and a five-point lead over South on Wednesday in The Duel – North vs South 4 at Wack Wack’s East Course.

Miguel Tabuena bounced back from a loss in fourball with Benjie Magada, as he teamed up with Joenard Rates to score a big 6 and 4 rout of Jhonnel Ababa and Charles Hong.

That helped put the North ahead, 8-1/2 to 3-1/2 entering the final day featuring 12 singles matches.

Miguel Ochoa and James Ryan Lam humbled the fancied pair of Cassius Casas and Clyde Mondilla, 2 and 1, and Magada and new partner Randy Garalde upended Elmer Salvador and Arnold Villacencio, 2 and 1.

With Angelo Que and Mars Pucay registering a 3 and 1 romp over Ferdie Aunzo and Marvin Dumandan, Team North pooled four wins to move closer to avenging its loss last year in Cebu.

After a two-hour rain delay, Team South actually moved within two points as brothers Jay and Rufino Bayron routed Jun Bernis and Michael Bibat, 5 and 4, and Tony Lascuña and Orlan Sumcad held off Gerald Rosales and Keanu Jahns, 3 and 2.

But Tabuena and Rates stood tall against Hong and Ababa in the fourth group, sustaining a strong start to post the day’s most lopsided win.

“We’ll never stop. We’ll play as if we’re the ones trailing,” said North skipper Artemio Murakami.

With a big lead in the event backed by Nike Golf, Srixon, Callaway, Empire Golf, Footjoy, Titleist, Custom Clubmakers and Sharp, Team North only needs to win four of the 12 singles to clinch The Duel and keep a trend in the first four years of the event, the local version of the Ryder Cup.

South won the inaugurals in 2012 but North ruled the next edition before the Southerners scored a 20-8 rout last year.

With a five-point lead, North is itching to set a record for the winning margin.

Ochoa, who swept his fourball and foursomes assignments, sets out in the first match against the power-hitting Dumandan then Magada squares off with Sumcad, Rosales takes on Casas and Jahns tests Mondilla’s mettle.

Que steps into the fifth match and is heavily favored against Villacencio in a bid to keep a winning run, so does Lam, who collides with Aunzo next, before Pucay battles Lascuña, Bernis faces Rufino Bayron, Bibat tangles with Ababa, Rates mixes it up with Jay Bayron, Tabuena clashes with Hong, and Garalde collides with Salvador.


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