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PGT: Tony Lascuña claims victory at Caliraya in wire-to-wire win

Tony Lascuña kept defying Father Time as he cracked a pair of runner-up finishes with a dominant wire-to-wire win that could spur another title run on the Philippine Golf Tour, bagging the ICTSI Caliraya Springs Championship behind a high level of consistency at the Caliraya Springs Golf Club in Cavinti, Laguna on Friday.

He closed out with a 69 and beat Asian Tour campaigners Angelo Que and Lloyd Go by three on an 18-under 270 total that included rounds of 68, 66 and 67, keeping his overnight four-stroke lead as firm as he kept his form through sheer training and teaching through the years.

Not even a bogey on No. 15 could derail the 52-year-old shotmaker’s march to another championship after claiming the inaugural ICTSI Match Play crown at Villamor last year as his pursuers all failed to mount any last-gasp attack in baking heat on this mountain-top course.

“I’m so thankful that I was able to win it. I kept an eye on Angel (Que) and Clyde (Mondilla) and just did what I did in the first three rounds – fairways and greens and make the most of my (putting) chances,” said Lascuña, who kept polishing his stroke on the practice green late Thursday when all the others had left for home.

His frontside 34 practically held off his rivals’ charge as he stayed four shots ahead heading to the last nine holes.

Though Que pressed his bid to pull within two in a flight ahead of the championship group of Lascuña, Mondilla, and Reymon Jaraula, the Davaoeño ace kept his nerves in check and hit clutch birdies on Nos. 12 and 14 to keep a three-four shot cushion on his way to victory worth P450,000.

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“I just stayed focused but it was only after I hit my approach shot on the 18th that I knew I would win,” added Lascuña, who also gained the needed momentum as the Philippine Golf Tour heads to Luisita next month.

“There’s a lot of young, talented players, but I am able to stay in shape through training, and practice while improving my mental well-being,” added Lascuña.

While Go, who with Que headed straight into the P2.5 million championship from the International Series Vietnam, sustained his final round charge, a solid 66 highlighted by a final-hole birdie, the 28-year-old Cebuano still fell way short of his breakthrough bid on the Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.-organized circuit.

But his closing six-under card netted him a joint runner-up finish with Que at 273 after the latter lost steam while trying to cap a blistering rally in the last 36 holes that produced a course-record-setting 64 Thursday.

The three-time Asian Tour kept his charge going in the final round, birdying four of the first nine holes and adding two more on Nos. 11 and 12. But a bogey on the next all but scuttled his bid as he settled for a run of pars the rest of the way to finish with a 67.

Go and Que each received P232,500.

Jaraula, who edged Lascuña in two extra holes to annex his first PGT win at Pueblo de Oro in 2019, also turned in a bogey-free card but his 69 could only net him a solo fourth place finish at 274 worth P132,000.

“May asim pa,” said Mondilla, who trailed Lascuna by five with a 66 Thursday but wavered with a frontside 37 in the final round. He birdied three of the last seven holes to save a 70 and tied Ira Alido, who fired a 69, at fifth at 276.

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Jhonnel Ababa rallied with a 68 to end up seventh at 277 while Sean Ramos put in a 70 for joint eighth with Michael Bibat, who shot a 71, at 279.

Korean Rho Hyun Ho carded a 70 for 10th at 280, Rupert Zaragosa fought back with a 77 to salvage 11th place at 281, while back-to-back The Country Club Invitational winner Guido van der Valk and last year’s runaway champion Zanieboy Gialon stumbled with identical 74s for joint 12th at 282.

Lascuna’s triumph was some sort of redemption for the former four-time PGT Order of Merit winner, who lost by one to a rallying Alido in the Negros Occidental Classic and got humbled by 9 by Zaragosa in the Iloilo Golf Challenge.

He braced for another exacting week after forcing a four-way at 68 in the first round but took control the next day as erstwhile co-leaders Mondilla, Go and Zaragosa failed to match his sizzling 66.

As Jaraula and Que charged back in moving day with low rounds, including the latter’s course-setting 64, Lascuña impressed in the accuracy of his short game, including putting that startled third round flightmate Marvin Dumandan.

“I have never seen him putt that well in a long time,” said Dumandan, referring to Lascuña’s long putts that helped anchor his 67 and stave off Jaraula, Mondilla, and Que’s onslaught.

He put that on display again in the final round, sinking a bending 14-footer on the ninth that spiked his frontside 34 and cushioned Alido’s eagle-spiked 33 that put the Bacolod leg winner to within four.

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In a flight ahead, Que continued his assault and fightback from five shots down, rattling off three straight birdies from No. 4 then draining another on the eighth for a 32 to pull within three.

But after hitting back-to-back birdies from No. 11 against Lascuña’s birdie on the 12th to threaten within two, Que fell farther back again with a bogey on the next – and with the rest failing to blitz through at the finish, the multi-titled Lascuna rolled to another championship, his 37th.

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