GEN. TRIAS, CAVITE – Tony Lascuña made two clutch par putts from long range in the closing holes to frustrate a hot-charging Marvin Dumandan and snap a seven-month long title spell by winning the rich million ICTSI Eagle Ridge Classic crown by one with a 71 at the Eagle Ridge Golf and Country Club’s Aoki course Friday.
Lascuña recovered from early miscues that enabled Elmer Salvador to bounce back but the former pounced on the latter’s shaky putting to pull away before spoiling Dumandan’s course-record setting eight-under 64 in a flight ahead with gutsy pars in the last two holes to rule the P3 million event which served as the third leg of this year’s ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour.
Dumandan went on a birdie-binge and an eagle in the closing holes to fire the tournament-best 64 but failed to forge a playoff as Lascuña steeled himself up and came through with pressure-packed putts to nail the win with a seven-under 281 total.
“Nalaman ko lang sa No. 16, may nagsabi sa akin na 1-up na lang ako kay Marvin. Pero di naman ako kinabahan. Inisip ko lang na mag-safety par sa last two holes,” said Lascuña, who knocked in a delicate putt from 12 feet on the par-4 17th and banged in the clincher from eight feet on the final hole, also a par-4.
Fittingly, Lascuña emerged as the lone player to have completed a run of under-par scores in four days at three courses, taming the demanding Faldo layout with a 71 and taking charge of the field with a 69 at Norman. He took a three-shot cushion with a 70 in the third round at Aoki then held on to pocket the crown worth P550,000 in the event sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc.
Dumandan, who shared the first round lead with Jay Bayron but fell eight down at the start of the final round, also learned that he was just two down on the final hole then rolled in a 16-footer to threaten within one.
“Ganado talaga ako kasi maganda palo at mainit ang putting ko sa backnine, pero matigas talaga si Onyot (Lascuña), di natinag,” said Dumandan.
Still, it was a big windup for the long-hitting Dumandan, who remained winless in two years but took the runner-up purse of P370,000 on a 282 and gained confidence and some momentum for the Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.-organized circuit’s next leg at Sherwood Hills two weeks from now.
“Magandang panalo din ito, Napakahirap ng laban dito kasi iba-ibang courses at kailangan ang magandang diskarte. Mabuti na lang at nag click ang putting sa bandang huli,“ said Lascuña, whose victory kept him on track for a record three-straight Order of Merit crown. He won two titles last year, including the ICTSI Manila Southwoods Championship last September and turned in four runner-up finishes to win the OOM title for the second straight year.
Three-up on Salvador after 54 holes, Lascuña wavered in the early going, bogeying Nos. 4 and 5 and enabling Salvador to close to within one with a slew of pars. But Salvador missed the green on No. 6 and made a bogey and Lascuña birdied the next to go 3-up again, padding his lead to four with another birdie on the ninth.
Salvador failed to threaten again with missed putts for birdies at the back, but in a flight ahead, Dumandan kept pounding the course in sweltering heat, sustaining a three-under card after nine holes with a birdie on No. 12 and an eagle on the par-5 15th when he hit a superb 6-iron shot from 210 yards and canned in the putt from 30 feet out. He tapped in for birdie on the par-3 16th off a solid 7-iron from 212 yards and after a routine par on the 17th, Dumandan holed out with another birdie for that 64.
Cebuano Charles Hong, the third man in the championship flight, fought back from a two-over card at the front and saved a 73 and dropped to joint third with Salvador, who had a birdie-less 72, and Angelo Que, who rallied with a 67, at 287. Each took home P170,000.
Frankie Miñoza, who won three titles last year, hit back-to-back birdies from No. 2 and shot a 70 to finish solo sixth at 291 worth P115,000 while Canadian Rick Gibson emerged as the best-placed foreign player for the second straight time at seventh at 292 despite a 73. He received P100,000.
Gibson, mentor of young gun Miguel Tabuena, also wound up joint ninth at ICTSI Camp John Hay Championship two weeks ago in Baguio.
Bayron, winner of the kick-off leg at ICTSI Splendio, carded a 73 and finished tied for eighth at 294 with Jhonnel Ababa, who matched par 72, and unheralded Nilo Salahog, who made a 74. Each got P76,000.
The other backers of the event were Nike Golf, Custom Clubmakers, Titleist, Cleveland, Pacsports, Srixon, Callaway, Sharp and FootJoy and media partners Balls TV and ABS-CBN.