CANLUBANG – Cassius Casas blew a three-stroke lead with six holes to go in regulation but toughened up in the playoff to nip Clyde Mondilla on the second extra hole and capture the P1 million Canlubang Golf Invitational at Cangolf’s North course on Friday.
Casas made a routine par on their third trip down the par-4 18th in driving rain then watched Mondilla crack under pressure and flub his own par putt from three feet, handing the crown and the top P200,000 purse to the former Philippine Open champion.
“At last, I won it fair and square. And winning it through a playoff makes this victory sweeter,” said Casas, who posted his last win on the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour in 2010 in Del Monte when Juvic Pagunsan, Richard Sinfuego and Elmer Salvador were disqualified on a final hole infraction.
This time, he won it through sheer hard work.
Casas, who seized control with a brilliant 66 on Wednesday and held on to a one-shot lead over Mondilla after 36 holes, looked headed for a runaway victory when he went three-up with a birdie on No. 12.
But he stumbled with two bogeys in the last three holes and wound up with a 73, enabling Mondilla, who birdied No. 14 and parred the last four holes, to force a playoff at seven-under 209 after a 72.
Both players parred the first playoff hole, also the No. 18, with Casas missing an eight-footer for birdie.
But after a solid drive, Casas hacked a superb 9-iron shot to within eight feet and though he missed completing a birdie, he clinched the crown just the same as Mondilla blew his par bid from close range after missing the green.
“It’s nice to win again. It’s been a long time,” said Casas, who was denied his third place prize in this same event last year after he was called to the stage only to be informed later that he was being disqualified for using a non-conforming wedge.
“I’ve already put that thing behind me. What matters now is this victory. This means a lot to me,” said Casas, now looking forward to dishing out the same form in the ICTSI-sponsored circuit’s final leg at Wack Wack Championship two weeks from now.
Mondilla rushed out of the clubhouse after the brief awards rites, ruing the chance to extend the playoff to another hole with that missed par putt and perhaps a shot at a breakthrough victory.
Still, his runner-up finish, worth P120,000, augured well for the young Del Monte shotmaker who came into the event reeling from six straight missed cut stints and a 28th place finish in last month’s ICTSI Riviera leg of the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Jessie Balasabas, who finished second to Mhark Fernando at Riviera, closed out with a 70 and ended up third at 211 while Japanese Toru Nakajima also shot a 70 to snatch fourth place at 212 and longshot Richard Abaring took fifth place with a third straight 71 and a 213.
Elmer Saban, who beat Casas to score his maiden win at ICTSI Splendido also last month, rallied with one of the day’s three best scores of 69 to tie last year’s winner Zanie Boy Gialon (73) and Charles Hong (75) at 214 while Anthony Fernando carded a 71 to share ninth place with Mars Pucay (73) and Jun Bernis (77) at 215.
The other backers of the event were Nike Golf, Srixon, Custom Clubmakers, Pacsports, Cleveland Golf, Callaway, Ping, Mizuno, Empire Golf and Sports Shop, FootJoy, Titleist, Sharp, BMW and Gergia Energy Foods.