DASMARIÑNAS, CAVITE – Rufino Bayron finally nailed the elusive crown, winning the ICTSI Orchard Golf Championship with a closing two-under 70 for a four-shot victory over Japanese Tomokazu Yoshinaga in the $60,000 event at Orchard’s Palmer course here Saturday.
The three-shot lead he brought to the final round from a solid record setting 62 Thursday and a gutsy 71 Friday proved too big for his pursuers to overcome although Bayron had to steel himself up in the stretch – and endure another hour-long delay due to lightning – with tough pars and two birdies in the last five holes to secure his first-ever pro win.
“I thank the Lord for giving me my first win,” said Bayron, who toiled for five years before savoring the sweet taste of victory worth $10,500 (P450,000) with a 72-hole total of 16-under 272.
The win also erased the stigma of his final round meltdowns, including three playoff losses and a nine-stroke lead he squandered in the ICTSI Splendido Classic last March where he lost by one to younger brother Jay Bayron.
But those setbacks are now mere footnotes to Bayron’s promising career and his triumph should spur the Davaoeño shotmaker to go for more wins either on the local circuit or abroad.
“My game plan was to play it conservatively at the front and make a charge at the back if need be,” said Bayron. “I was expecting Ferdie (Aunzo) to make a charge but he missed some putts.”
Not even another weather delay could cool down Bayron as he strung up a brave run of pars at resumption on No. 15 then buried a birdie from six feet to punctuate his victory, which came almost six years after he won a pro tournament as an amateur in late 2008.
Yoshinaga, three behind Bayron at the start of the round, fell farther back with a 39 at the front but rallied with a 32 for a 71 to salvage second place at 276 worth $6,900 while fellow Japanese Masaru Takahashi carded a 70 to finish tied for third with RJ Caracella of Australia at 278.
Three flights ahead, Caracella launched a late charge of five birdies in a seven-hole stretch from No. 8, pulling to within three off Bayron after starting eight strokes adrift. But he settled for pars in the next three holes then bogeyed the final hole for a 68. Takahashi and Caracella shared the combined $7,560 prize.
Orlan Sumcad charged back with a 68 to tie American Brett Munson and Cassius Casas, who both had 69s, Arnold Villacencio, who made a 71, and Jhonnel Ababa, who slowed down with a 72, at fifth at 279 in the event capping a two-week swing of the Asian Development Tour sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc.
Aunzo, who shot himself into contention with a fiery eight-birdie, one-bogey 65 in the third round, went birdie-less this time, limping with two bogeys for a 74. He tumbled to joint 10th at 280 with Clyde Mondilla, who fired a 71.
The other backers of the event, serving as the seventh leg of the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour, were Nike Golf, Pacsports Phils. Inc., Srixon, Callaway, Mizuno, Empire Golf, Footjoy, Titleist, Custom Clubmakers, Sharp and KZG with ABS-CBN Sports & Action, Balls and Inquirer Golf as media partners.
“It’s really a nice feeling winning your first title after a number of heartbreakers. But I hope this should inspire me to go for more wins,” said Bayron, looking forward to coming up with a big followup in the next ICTSI PGT leg, the P3,5 million ICTSI Manila Masters on June 17-20 at the Eastridge Golf Club in Binangonan, Rizal.