TONY Lascuña used a solid start to unnerve Zanieboy Gialon and overcome a four-stroke deficit, then steadied at the back to wrest back a two-stroke lead with a three-under 69 in the third round of the ICTSI Open Championship at Wack Wack’s East.
Lascuña, who led the opener of the P3.5 million event with a 71 but bogeyed the final hole on No. 9 for a 72 at the completion of the weather-suspended second round play early Friday, birdied Nos. 2 and 3 to erase what had appeared to be a big four-shot lead set by Gialon behind a 67 Thursday, then birdied No. 15 to finish with a 69 and a 54-hole aggregate of four-under 212.
“One has got to be lucky here, especially in this condition. I was just able to put most of my drives on the fairway and got some good looks at the greens,” said Lascuña, who birdied Nos. 2, 3 and 4 inside six feet but failed to return a seven-footer after missing the ninth green.
He rued missing a couple of birdie putts at the back and stressed putting will be key in his pursuit of the top P650,000 purse in the event sponsored by International Container Terminals Services, Inc.
Gialon, who was just as surprised as the rest of the stellar field when he surged ahead halfway through, struggled off the mound when ranged against Lascuña and Miguel Tabuena, bogeying the first two holes and dropping two more strokes on Nos. 4 and 7.
He did birdie the difficult No. 8 but made the turn at 39 and found himself trailing by one as Lascuna hit one more birdie against a bogey for a 34.
Gialon never got a shot at the lead again as he mixed two birdies with the same number of bogeys and limped with a 75.
Still, the 26-year-old Gialon stayed within sight of Lascuna at 214, hopeful of putting it all back together for a crack at the coveted crown in the third-to-last event of this year’s circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
“I was a bit off off-the-tee at the frontnine,” rued Gialon, who missed three of the first four greens. “I must shoot three-under or lower to win but I need to improve on my driving to be able to set up birdie chances.”
Tabuena, in a fierce three-way fight with Lascuña and Angelo Que for this year’s Order of Merit crown, struggled with his putting all day and failed to make his move with a so-so card marred by three bogeys against two birdies, the last on No. 15 that saved him a 73 and an even 216.
Cassius Casas, who blew a four-under card with a bogey on the 18th to complete his second round play, sustained his charge, joined Tabuena at third with a two-under 70 and took the last spot in the championship flight.
“I’ve been hitting it well. I’ll just try my very best to win again here. Anything can happen in this course,” said Casas, who started out with a 77 but wheeled back into contention with a 69 and 70.
Que also poised himself for a big rebound from a pair of 73s with three birdies against a bogey after nine holes. But the three-time Asian Tour winner, including the Philippine Open here in 2008, hobbled with two bogeys at the back with no birdie to show. He settled for a 72 and stood way behind at 222, 10 strokes off Lascuna.
Anthony Fernando ralled with a 34 to save a 72 and tie Charles Hong and Dutch Guido Van der Valk, who carded a 74 and 77, respectively, at 222, while Orlan Sumcad turned in a 74 and joined Elmer Salvador, who groped for a 76, at 223 heading to the final round of the tournament event backed by Custom Clubmakers, Titleist, Nike Golf, PacSports, Callaway, Srixon, KZG, Sharp and Foot Joy.