TEAM South scored 3-1 in the morning four-balls and came up with the same score in the afternoon foursomes for an 11-5 lead after two days of the Philippine Golf Tour’s The Duel 3 on Thursday at the Cebu Country Club.
Jhonnel Ababa capped his perfect campaign in all four matches with a victory over North’s Randy Garalde and Benjie Magada as teammate Elmer Salvador banged in a delicate 14-foot par putt on No. 18 to preserve a 1-up win in the afternoon foursomes.
Mhark Fernando and Jessie Balasabas led South’s charge in the alternate-shot format duels with a 5 and 4 rout of Carl Santos-Ocampo and Jun Rates.
Cassius Casas and Elmer Saban won 4 and 3 over Mars Pucay and Angelo Que.
Michael Bibat and Gerald Rosales produced the lone afternoon victory for Team North, winning 2-up over Marvin Dumandan and Clyde Mondilla.
The South needs just three wins and a draw in Friday’s 12 singles matches to regain the crown it won in 2012.
“This is a good lead but we’re still not sure of our victory. We have to play solid to avoid a repeat of last year’s loss,” said South skipper Jerome Delariarte, referring to the South’s final day fold-up at Alabang Country Club where they blew a four-point lead and lost by one.
"Hopefully it will not happen again this year, and I'm confident that it won't," said Delariarte.
For North captain Artemio Murakami, he remains hopeful of his wards’ chances to dominate the singles duels of the event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
“Anything can happen. The important thing is not to give up,” said Murakami.
The soft-spoken Ababa proved to be South’s ace as the former amateur standout teamed up with Casas in a 2 and 1 win over Garalde and Magada in best-ball and played with Charles Hong in a 5 and 3 romp over Santos-Ocampo and Edward Reyes in alternate-shot on Wednesday.
In the morning matches, Dumandan and Tony Lascuna ripped the Bibat-Rosales pair 3 and 1.
Jay Bayron and Casas trounced Que and Reyes 4 and 2, while Ababa and Salvador edged James Ryan Lam and Santos-Ocampo 2 and 1.
Miguel Tabuena and Jun Rates saved the day for the defending champion North squad as they nipped the Hong- Minoza duo 2 and 1 in the event sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc. and backed by Nike Golf, Pacsports, Srixon, Callaway, Sharp, FootJoy, Mizuno, Callaway and Custom Clubmakers with Balls, ABS-CBN Sports+Action and Inquirer Golf as media partners.