Lascuña stretches lead to 4 with 67; Que breaks record


UNAWARE of Angelo Que’s record-breaking binge on the other side, Tony Lascuña kept pounding the Caliraya Springs Golf Club with a display of consistency and savvy that have been the trademark of his illustrious career.

A double-bogey mishap on No. 13 didn’t unsettle him, the blistering summer heat didn’t impede him, nor did his old rival’s romp that led to a new course mark of 64 unnerve him.

He just kept coming, moving 18 holes away from snapping a pair of runner-up finishes in the Visayan swing of the Philippine Golf Tour (PGT) last month with a 67 and a four-stroke lead over Reymon Jaraula in third round of the International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI) Caliraya Springs Championship in Cavinti, Laguna, on Thursday.

“You can never tell, even if it’s a big lead. I have lost tournaments after leading in the third round and came up short while chasing the leader in some,” said Lascuña, who extended his hot run at the undulating layout after a 68-66 for a 54-hole total of 15-under 201.

“I’m happy with my game—seven birdies against a double-bogey. I will just play my game and enjoy tomorrow, (today),” said the 52-year-old Lascuna, who birdied Nos. 4, 7, 8, 10, 11, 14 and 16 to negate a double-bogey on No. 13 after a mishit on his approach shot and a flubbed bogey-putt from eight feet.

He also stressed the need to regain energy and stamina following a grueling round in sweltering heat.

“Too hot!” said the four-time Philippine Golf Tour Order of Merit winner, who also made a pitch of sorts for the host club. “It’s just nice and refreshing here in Caliraya Springs, a vacation would be fine.”

But he found a new rival in Jaraula, who matched his five-under card in bogey-free fashion to wrest solo second at 205, and an equally hot-charging Clyde Mondilla, who also bucked a double-bogey miscue on No. 8 with a cluster of backside birdies—five—to shoot a 66 and move to sixth at 206.

Que matched Mondilla’s 10-under total over 54 holes, fighting back from as many as eight strokes down with a barrage of birdies that came in as rare as rain during summer in the first two days.

Five shots behind, the three-time Asian Tour champion said he would need to do a reprise in the final round to get a crack at the championship worth P450,000.

“Definitely, Tony is way ahead and the only way to catch him is to shoot those scores,” said Que, who rattled off five birdies in a backside start then matched that binge at the front marred by two bogeys to break Lascuna’s previous best of 66 Wednesday.

“If it’s a course record, it’s good. I’m very proud of my feat,” he added.

“But there’s always a chance, even if you’re 4, 5 or six shots down, you’ll never know. Maybe, when my game heats up again, I might have a chance,” said Que.

Three strokes adrift, Jaraula has the best chance to topple the multi-titled Lascuna, whom he upended on the second playoff hole to nail his maiden win at Pueblo de Oro in 2019.

But the Del Monte ace knows it will take more than dishing out his best shot to score a repeat over the seasoned Davaoeño.

“I need to stay focused, hit the fairways and the greens and make the putts,” said Jaraula.

Mondilla also mounted his charge from six strokes down with three birdies in the first six holes then bounced back strong from a misfortune on the tough No. 8 with five birdies in the last nine holes, including a four-birdie string from No. 13.

“My tee shot on No. 8 went out-of-bounds but I made good recovery at the back,” said the former Philippine Open champion. “It will be a good fight (in the final round).”

The rest, however, stayed a little farther back with Lloyd Go and Ira Alido assembling identical 207s after a 68 and 70, respectively, and Michael Bibat, Guido van der Valk and defending champion Zanieboy Gialon pooling 208s after 67, 68 and 70, respectively.

Sean Ramos shot a 69 to tie Jhonnel Ababa and Eric Gallardo, who matched 71s, at 10th at 209, while Jay Bayron also carded a 69 to improve to 210 for a share of 13th with Jay Bayron and erstwhile joint second-running Marvin Dumandan, who turned in a 69 and 73, respectively.

Elmer Salvador, who pulled to within three shots off Lascuña with a 68 Wednesday, hobbled in hot conditions with a 74 and tumbled from joint second to solo 16th at 211, now 10 shots behind the three-day leader.

Jun Bernis, meanwhile, scored a hole-in-one on No. 14 that helped save him a 72 Wednesday and a spot in the final 36 holes of the P2.5 million championship put up by ICTSI. The former national amateur champion used a Srixon 9-iron and Titleist No. 2 ball in acing the 169-yard hole.

He won P20,000 from the organizing Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. and P5,000 cash and consumable of P5,000 from the host club for his feat. Bernis, however, fumbled with a third round 76 and fell to 38th at 222.

Image credits: Nonie Reyes

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