Juvic Pagunsan recovered from a late meltdown in regulation with a gutsy stand in sudden death, pouncing on Tony Lascuna’s errant drive on the second playoff hole on No. 9 and holing out with a birdie to clinch the ICTSI Summit Point World 18 Challenge crown in Lipa City on Saturday.
Pagunsan uncharacteristically blew a two-stroke lead with three holes left in regulation with bogeys on Nos. 16 and 17 for a 71 but he rose to the challenge, hitting a solid drive on their third trip in the day on the par-5 No. 9 while pouncing on Lascuña’s errant shot to the roughs.
He chipped to a putter-length distance. After watching Lascuña smirk after almost sinking a birdie bid off the fringe, Pagunsan banged in his last putt then raised his arm in triumph after foiling a worthy, tough rival to mark another brilliant campaign on Philippine Golf Tour Asia.
“I’m very happy with this win even if I had to go through two extra holes,” said Pagunsan, who hacked his 6-iron second shot barely in front of the ninth green and hit a 52-degree wedge shot to within four feet.
Two behind Pagunsan after 54 holes of the $100,000 championship, the seventh leg of the third season of the circuit put up by ICTSI, Lascuña closed out with a bogey-free 69 to force a playoff at 18-under 270.
Both birdied the reachable 546-yard No. 9 on “gimme” distance but Lascuña pulled his drive to the left and barely got past a line of bunkers some 90 yards off the green the third time around. He also came up short on his approach but nearly knocked down a birdie from 30 feet out that would’ve extended the match.
‘It (title) was indeed for him,” said a dejected Lascuña.
Heading to the par-4 72nd hole, Pagunsan and Lascuña hit it straight in the rain and wind but while Lascuña knocked down his approach shot to the right side of the cup, some 20 feet out, Pagunsan’s approach hit the top of the left fringe, the ball rolling sideways to the green but resting oin a ridge some 25 feet out.
Pagunsan two-putted for par while Lascuña barely clinched it after his sidehill putt went inches past the cup, setting the stage for another playoff the way it was when Joenard Rates rallied from six down to beat Finland’s Janne Kaske last year.
On a break from Japan PGA Tour, his base the past decade or so, Pagunsan pocketed another $17,500, the same purse he collected after dominating the PGT Asia Riviera leg last March. Vying in nine tournaments while shuttling back and forth, Pagunsan won a total of six in nine local appearances this year, including a record four straight title romp in the PGT legs in Bacolod, Negros, Iloilo, where he nipped Michael Bibat, also in a playoff, and Riviera.
“I’ll go back to Japan next week till December,” said Pagunsan, who will actually return next month to receive his Order of Merit title in the PGT, which he dominated with that four-win feat.
Lascuna settled for $11,500.
Pagunsan’s late-hole meltdown also enabled the likes of Aussie Jack Lane-Weston and Clyde Mondilla to close in but both ran out of holes in their respective bids in separate flights. Lane-Weston gunned down seven birdies against a bogey for a 66 and tied Mondilla, who went six-under, spiked by an eagle on No. 9, in the last 10 holes for a 67, at 271, just one off the playoff protagonists.
Jhonnel Ababa, the third player in the championship flight, groped for putting form and settled for a 70, dropping to solo fifth at 273 while American Brett Munson, who first set the course record 64 in the second day before Pagunsan and Lascuña matched it Friday to fuel their title drives, closed out with a 68 for solo sixth at 274.
Thai Chonlatit Chuenboonngam shot a 69 and tied for seventh at 276 with Sam Gillis of the US, who carded a 70, while Japanese Keita Sudo placed ninth at 277 after a 67, and former Philippine Open champion Gerald Rosales rallied with a 67 to tie Thais Donlaphatchai Niyomchon (69) and PGT Asia Luisita leg winner Namchok Tantipokhakul (65) and Aboitiz Invitational winner Damien Jordan of Australia (74) at 10th at 278 in the event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. and backed by PLDT Enterprise, Meralco, BDO and PGT Asia official apparel Pin High.
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