Lascuña snaps spell, nips Tabuena by 1

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DAVAO CCITY – Tony Lascuña hit a clutch birdie on the par-3 17th to wrest control then matched Miguel Tabuena’s closing birdie to win by one with a 69 and nail the elusive crown in the P1.5 million ICTSI Apo Golf Invitational at the Apo Golf and Country Club here Saturday.

Bracing for a playoff after a day-long shootout with the young gun, the veteran Lascuña came away with a solid 7-iron tee-shot on the 170-yard hole to within four feet then two-putted for birdie on the par-5 18th to frustrate Tabuena and finally score a victory after nine legs of the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour.

Tony Lascuña beams as he hoists his trophy after edging Miguel Tabuena by one to win ICTSI Apo Golf Invitational crown.
Tony Lascuña beams as he hoists his trophy after edging Miguel Tabuena by one to win ICTSI Apo Golf Invitational crown.

“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 got into the mix with another 69 in the topsy-turvy third round and wound up with an eight-under 280 worth P270,000.

Unlike in his past failed bids marred by final round foldups, Lascuña steeled himself this time, out-steadying the hottest player on the circuit sposnroed and winning it all with those closing back-to-back birdies.

What made his first win this season sweeter was he did 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 racked up five victories last year to keep the Order of Merit crown for the third straight year but went on a winless run in the first eight stages of the circuit organized Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.

Tony Lascuña raises his left arm in triumph while shaking Miguel Tabuena’s hand after ending a winless run with a one-shot victory in the ICTSI Apo Golf Invitational.
Tony Lascuña raises his left arm in triumph while shaking Miguel Tabuena’s hand after ending a winless run with a one-shot victory in the ICTSI Apo Golf Invitational.

Tabuena regained a one-shot lead when Lascuña bogeyed No. 12, only to yield it again 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, posting his fourth runner-up finish in a solid campaign he spiked with victories at Splendido and Palos Verdes. He received P185,000.

Elmer Salvador moved within one for the last time 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, who co-shared the lead halfway through, rallied with a 69 and snared fourth place at 286 and P85,000 while Davao-based American Micah Shin fired the tournament-best 65 to snatch 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 while 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 and putt-for-putt 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.

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