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South Pacific battle begins

TONY Lascuña knows the terrain, but the road to victory is strewn with formidable rivals. | Photograph courtesy of PGT

DAVAO CITY — Homegrown talent Tony Lascuña is motivated by a lot of things when the ICTSI South Pacific Classic unfurls Tuesday.

He won it in 2019 via dominating fashion. And the crowd would surely be behind him once again.

But he is in a rut for quite some time. And standing in the way is somebody who is coming in hot: Clyde Mondilla.

“Clyde (Mondilla) is on a roll. His confidence is high and he’s playing great golf. It will be tough to beat him but there’s always a chance,” said Lascuña, whose last taste of victory was last April at the Caliraya Springs.

He knows better than to allow Mondilla take his third Pilipinas Golf Tour crown this season right on his home turf.

Mondilla won at Forest Hills in Antipolo last June, and at Del Monte Golf Club just last Friday.

In comparison, Lascuña tied for seventh at Luisita, wound up joint sixth at Valley, shared fifth place at Forest Hills, and finished at tied ninth at Del Monte.

“I’ve been working on my putting. I know I would yield some yardage off the tee against the Tour’s long hitters but I can measure up with them in hybrid or iron play and wedge shots. But the key here is putting,” Lascuña added.

Aside from the home course edge, experience is on Lascuña’s side. After all, he produced seven birdies en route to a course-record tying 66 at the South Pacific Golf Club in beating Ira Alido four years back.

Also jostling for the spotlight here are Asian Tour and Asian Development Tour regulars Justin Quiban, Angelo Que and Lloyd Go; leg winners Reymon Jaraula, Rupert Zaragosa, Jhonnel Ababa and Alido; Dutch Guido van der Valk, and local aces Jay Bayron, Elmer Salvador, Elmer Saban, Ramil Bisera and Mhark Fernando, among others.

Quiban is due for a big finish, barely losing steam in the stretch at Del Monte, which he had led in one stretch before ending up solo third.

Zaragosa, the runaway winner at Iloilo, also finished strong to place fourth; while Ababa, who topped the Villamor Philippine Masters, is out to make up for a final round struggle at Del Monte where he reigned four years ago.

Que and Go are also expected to contend coming off stints overseas with the duo likewise seeking to settle some unfinished business after finishing tied for second at Forest Hills and at Valley, respectively.

Fil-German Keanu Jahns, who has had a number of runner-up finishes in the circuit backed by Kampfortis Golf, the official apparel of the organizing Pilipinas Golf Tournaments Inc., is also back in the hunt seeking for the elusive win.

A total of P2 million is up for grabs in the meet put up by ICTSI along with Cebu-based Japanese Gen Nagai and former PGT Asia leg winner Joenard Rates.

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