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MANO A MANO

Tony Lascuña continued to defy Father time, purposely using a couple of strong starts to keep his energy up throughout a grueling campaign yesterday in the ICTSI Match Play at the Villamor Golf Club in Pasay City.

“I thought I need to get ahead of them early. I’m so tired but good thing, my game didn’t change a bit,” said Lascuña, 51, after dominating Clyde Mondilla, 5&3, in the afternoon semifinals in Filipino.

In the same fashion he booted out Gerald Rosales, 4&3, in the morning quarterfinals in hot conditions, Lascuña birdied the first two holes to take command, went 3-up after four then cleverly matched his rivals’ outputs in the closing holes to secure the twin wins and the coveted spot in the finals of the first head-to-head tournament in the country’s premier pro circuit.

“Like against Gerald, after the first four holes, I was up by 3. Then I played it safe but stayed focused in the succeeding holes, making sure they wouldn’t win three straight holes. I played cautious — driving, iron and putting. I went for pars and made the most of my birdie chances (on the par-5s). Thank God I won. I was so exhausted,” said the second seeded Lascuña.

But standing in his way is a young and hungry ace due for a breakthrough victory as Keanu Jahns stopped Lloyd Go, 2&1, in the other semis clash to get a crack at the top P280,000 purse.
They mix it up starting at 9 a.m.

The 24th-ranked Jahns, whose best career finish was second twice, the last when he lost to Lascuña by three in the 2019 ICTSI Apo Invitational, sustained his big 4&2 reversal over eighth-ranked Jhonnel Ababa in the Last 16 Wednesday, besting top seed Guido Van der Valk, 3&2, in the morning quarters.

Later, Jahns put an end to Go’s impressive run of victories that included a 5&4 rout of Marvin Dumandan in the first round, a 7&5 cruise over Zanieboy Gialon in the next, and a 3&2 victory over Miguel Tabuena in the quarters.

“I’ve been playing pretty solid and my swing feels good. So after my match with Ababa, that’s when I felt good, that I felt I had the chance, so I kept the momentum going and won against Guido and Lloyd,” the 27-year-old Jahns said.

Against the Lascuña, Jahns said he hopes to cash in on his length to be able to give himself good looks at the pins although he also remained wary of what his seasoned rival could offer in a duel of power and finesse.

“Distance (driving) is my edge since I’m gonna have shorter irons to the greens, I can attack the pins more,” Jahns said.

“But this course is very demanding off the tee, so I must be very patient tomorrow (today) and I should play well.”

When asked what advantage would Lascuña bring to the final, Jahns said in jest: “Everything. He has a very good short game, an all-around player. So, I don’t think he’s gonna make much mistakes, so I have to play extra patient and just stick to my game plan.”

Lascuña likewise opted to downplay his chances, saying: “I’ll just play my game and enjoy it that way I did in the first three days.”

But he hopes to end the season on a winning note after the four-time Order of Merit winner finished runner-up or tied for second in the last three PGT legs at Eagle Ridge-Aoki, Riviera and Pradera Verde.

“I think I’m also due for a win. I don’t want to end the year at No. 2 again.”

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