SILANG, Cavite – Tony Lascuña aced No. 12 and battled back from two strokes down on the final hole to tie Benjie Magada at the helm at two-under 69, one stroke ahead of Clyde Mondilla and two others at the start of the P1.5 million ICTSI Riviera Classic at Riviera’s Langer layout here Wednesday.
Lascuña gained on a two-shot swing with a birdie on No. 9, his finishing hole on a hot, humid day, and cashed in on Magada’s missed green bogey-mishap on the 18th in a separate flight to force an early tie for the lead in what promises to be a spirited battle for top honors in one of the country’s toughest courses.
Mondilla fought back with two birdies in the last five holes to salvage a 70 and share third place with Zanie Boy Gialon, who negated his bogey on the par-5 No. 5 with birdies on Nos. 9 and 10, and John Rey Pactolerin, who squandered a solid 33 start at the back with three bogeys in the first six holes at the front, needing to birdie the ninth to stay in the mix in the 72-hole championship sponsored by ICTSI.
With Mars Pucay, Frankie Miñoza, Rufino Bayron, Mhark Fernando and Korean Seok Jun Min matching par 71s and defending champion Elmer Salvador, Jay Bayron, Jessie Balasabas, Miguel Ochoa and Keanu Jahns just another stroke behind with 72s, the chase for the top P270,000 purse in this seventh leg of the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour is tipped to go down to the last hole and putt on Saturday.
“The course is tough and I kind of struggled with my putting. I was just lucky to start with a hole-in-one,” said Lascuña, still in pursuit of his first win this year after racking up five victories en route to retaining the Order of Merit crown last year.
The amiable Davaoeño shotmaker, coming off a joint 20th place finish in the Queen’s Cup of the Asian Tour last Sunday, used a Hybrid No. 18 and Srixon ball No. 4 in scoring a hole-in-one on the 234-yard No. 12 for his fifth career ace.
Magada, meanwhile, bucked a bogey-bogey start with five birdies in a 12-hole stretch from No. 5. After making par on the par-3 17th, the wiry shotmaker looked headed for a solo view of the top but missed the par-4 18th and failed to get up-and-down from seven feet.
Salvador, who scored a runaway win in wet conditions in the Asian Development Tour leg here last year, launched his title-retention drive with a solid 33 at the front, only to lost his focus and putting touch at the back, bogeying Nos. 11, 14 and 17 to slid to joint 11th.
Miguel Tabuena, the kickoff leg winner at Splendido and the other fancied bet in the event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc., stumbled with a double-bogey on No. 11 and dropped a shot on the 17th but hit one birdie at the front to drop into a big bunch of two-over 73 scorers, who included Dutch Guido Van der Valk, Dino Villanueva, Rolando Marabe, Korean Woo Seung Bin, Artemio Murakami, Marvin Dumandan, Solomon Gines and Thomas Kim.
The challenging, ravine-laced par-71 layout lived up to its name as it yielded just five-under par cards while allowing five players to match par. Rufino Bayron, who scored a breakthrough win at ICTSI Orchard last year, went two-under after 11 holes but bogeyed two of the last five to settle for a 71.
Fernando, who won here three years ago, had a one-under card with three holes left at the front but bogeyed the par-4 seventh, so did Miñoza, who fumbled with a bogey on the 17th, while Pucay birdied No. 15 to join the even par scorers.