BACOLOD – Tony Lascuña shouldered himself past a fading Arnold Villacencio with a flawless four-under 66, overhauling a three-stroke deficit for a two-stroke lead and a crack at another crown in the P1 million Negros Occidental Classic at the Negros Occidental Golf and Country Club here Friday.
It was actually Lascuna’s second straight bogey-free round after a 68 Thursday tied him with Michael Bibat at second, three shots behind Villacencio halfway through the 72-hole championship.
But his 66, coupled with Villacencio’s backside meltdown for a 71, put Lascuna into a familiar place and closer to a third leg title in this year’s ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour.
“Natiyempo lang at nagsabay na maganda ang palo and putting (I was just able to put it all together – driving, irons and putting),” said Lascuna, whose nine-under 201 total moved him 18 holes away from nailing another crown after dominating the ICTSI Eagle Ridge and Valley Golf legs of the circuit sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc.
Villacencio, who launched his bid for a breakthrough win with back-to-back 66s, stayed three shots clear off Lascuna after No. 10, but cracked when the going got tough in the closing holes, making three bogeys for a one-over 71. He dropped to second at 203,
Bibat, who pressed his drive for a second career victory with a 66 in the second round, muffed a couple of birdie putts from close range and made two bogeys in a birdie-less backside stint. He limped home with a 72 and tumbled down to joint sixth at 207.
Amateur Lloyd Go followed up an impressive 67 Thursday with a four-under 66 to force a three-way for third at 206 with Carl Santos-Ocampo, who shot a 67, and Elmer Salvador, who settled for another 70.
But with his fiery round, Go earned a rare spot in the championship flight as he joins Lascuna and Villacencio in the final group with Salvador and Santos-Ocampo relegated to second-to-last flight with Ferdie Aunzo.
“My target is to score 12-under total so I think a three-under card tomorrow (today) will do it. But I want to focus on my game, on each shot, especially on Marapara’s putting surface which is very unpredictable,” said Lascuna.