TEAM North overhauled a four-point deficit by dominating a South team abandoned by its top player in singles, winning seven while halving three matches on the way to winning The Duel by a point, 14 1/2-13 1/2, on Friday at the Alabang Country Club.
Randy Garalde, playing in third-to-the-last flight, banged in a five-foot birdie at the last to stun Ferdie Aunzo, 1-up, and deliver the marginal point for the North, which kept the Duel tied at 13 1/2 after James Ryan Lam rolled in a clutch 20-foot birdie putt on the final hole to gain a crucial half point against Charles Hong.
“There was no strategy in the final day. I just told my players to enjoy the round to ease off the pressure,” said North team captain Angelo Que. “I’m happy everyone delivered today.”
The victory avenged North’s 12-16 loss to South in last year’s inaugural of the event sponsored by ICTSI where the Southerners also rallied in the singles after trailing the team competitions and beat their regional counterparts.
As leader of the North team, which trailed South, 6-10, after two days and four Fourball and Foursomes matches, Que delivered the first point, edging reigning ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour Order of Merit frontrunner Tony Lascuna, 2 & 1, in the first singles match before Benjie Magada and Mars Pucay followed suit with a pair of 4 & 3 routs of Clyde Mondilla and Elmer Saban, respectively.
Joenard Rates of North and South’s Jhonnel Ababa halved the point in a match that went down to the final hole before Carl Santos-Ocampo sustained North’s charge with a 5 & 4 demolition of Marvin Dumandan, forcing a tie at 10 1/2.
Michael Bibat dominated Mhark Fernando, 3&2, to give the lead to North as Gerald Rosales and Zanie Boy Gialon halved their match but South’s Rufino Bayron clipped Chris delos Santos, 2 & 1, to tie the showdown again.
Jay Bayron gave the lead back to South with a 6 & 5 victory over Edward Reyes in the second-to-last flight but North Miguel Tabuena blasted Richard Sinfuego, a last-minute replacement for Juvic Pagunsan, 5 & 3, to leave the last two pairings – Lam vs Hong and Garalde vs Aunzo - to decide the Ryder Cup-style event.
Pagunsan showed up at the club but told South skipper Jerome Delariarte “he was not feeling well” and asked to be replaced.
The North squad approved of the substitution.
“They got the breaks they needed in the last two matches (Lam and Garalde),” said Delariarte. “We put up a very good fight. We will do our best next year to beat them.”
The North relied on two unheralded players to complete the final-day rally.
Lam, who had one win, a loss and a draw in team play, held his ground against Hong, last year’s winning skipper, keeping the Duel tied with his long birdie putt on the 18th while Garalde humbled the fancied Aunzo with his fiery finish.