TONY Lascuña hit a clutch birdie on the par-3 17th to wrest control then matched Miguel Tabuena’s closing birdie to score a 69 and win by one stroke in the P1.5 million ICTSI Apo Golf Invitational on Saturday at the Apo Golf and Country Club.
Lascuña hit a solid 7-iron tee-shot on the 170-yard hole to then made the four-foot birdie putt before two-putting for birdie on the par-5 18th to finally score a victory after nine legs of the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour.
“It’s nice to win again but it was tough. Miguel was just as steady until I hit that lucky shot on the 17th,” said Lascuña, who finished at eight-under 280 and bagged P270,000.
Unlike in his past failed bids marred by final round foldups, Lascuña played steady this time, and his first win this season came on a course he calls home.
“I really got inspired playing before home crowd and I hope this win will spark some kind of a run again,” said Lascuña, who won five tournaments last year.
Tabuena regained a one-shot lead when Lascuña bogeyed No. 12, only to yield it after dropping a shot on the par-5 13th. He flubbed a birdie-putt from long range on the 17th to trail again. He overshot the green on the 18th and pitched to with five feet for birdie and a 71 and a 281, bagging P185,000 for his fourth runner-up finish. He has two titles this season, winning at Splendido and Palos Verdes.
Elmer Salvador moved within one stroke with a birdie on No. 12 but fumbled with three bogeys in the next six holes and needed to birdie the last to salvage a 72 for solo third at 284 worth P105,000.
Frankie Miñoza shot a closing 69 and finished in fourth place at 286 for P85,000, while Davao-based American Micah Shin fired the tournament-best 65 and snatched fifth place at 287 and P68,500.
Zanieboy Gialon carded a 70 and tied Jay Bayron, who faltered with a 75, at sixth at 290.
Nilo Salahog placed eighth at 291 after a 76, and Randy Garalde bounced back with a 67 to end up ninth at 292, one ahead of Reymon Jaraula, who shot a 70 for a 293.
One behind Tabuena after 54 holes, Lascuña snatched the lead with birdies on Nos. 4 and 6 but Tabuena countered with his own birdie on the eighth and the two slugged it out shot-for-shot in the next eight holes until Lascuña bogeyed the 12th on an errant pitch shot from just around 20 yards and made a bogey to trail again.
But Tabuena hit an errant drive on No. 13 and the two traded missed birdie putts in the next three holes until Lascuña hacked a superb tee-shot on the 17th.
“You have to play solid to beat Miguel. He’s so good,” said Lascuña, looking forward to the ICTSI Classic at Mt. Malarayat on July 29-Aug. 1 and the Aboitiz Invitational at Manila Southwoods on Aug. 5-8.