JUVIC Pagunsan emerged from a crowded leaderboard of the ICTSI Summit Point World 18 Challenge, carding a second straight 64 for a two-stroke lead on Friday in Lipa, Batangas.
A crisp approach shot on the par-4 18th set up a birdie chance from six feet which he calmly knocked in for a 17-under 199.
Tony Lascuña also shot a 64 to rise from joint sixth to solo second at 201.
“It was a superb game and I hope I could sustain it to the finish,” said Pagunsan, who rushed to and hugged son PJ after the closing birdie, his 17th in the last two days on the course featuring replicas of 18 of the world most renowned golf holes and which he calls home.
American Brett Munson, who started the day ahead by three over Pagunsan and Jhonnel Ababa, staved off the Filipinos’ charge by bucking an early bogey with an eagle on the ninth. But he bogeyed three of the first four holes at the back and fell with a thud to joint seventh at 205 with Aussie Jack Lane-Weston, who rallied with a 66.
“Unlike in the second round, I had problem with my putter. But it happens in golf and I have to shoot a 64 to win. But of course, it’s quite tough to do it,” said Munson in jest.
Ababa also reeled back with a mediocre 35 start but almost matched Pagunsan’s late attack with a four-birdie binge from No. 12 then rescued pars in the next two to shoot a 67 for third at 202 that arranged an all-Filipino final group with Pagunsan and Lascuña.
Despite his lead, Pagunsan remained wary of his chances for the top prize of $17,500 (around P890,000) and a second Philippine Golf Tour Asia crown after dominating the Riviera leg early this year.
"Other players are capable of shooting a 64. No game plan and will just play my game,” said Pagunsan.
Munson’s bogey on No. 10 enabled Keanu Jahns, Pagunsan and Lascuña to force a four-way tie at 12-under with Ababa, Australia’s Damien Jordan and Clyde Mondilla just a couple of shots behind at 10-under.