THE NORTH—aided in part by another celebrated pullout by Juvic Pagunsan—ripped the South in the centrepiece singles matches yesterday to complete a come-from-behind 14½-13½ victory for The Duel title at Alabang Golf Club.
With the Southerners orphaned by their best player at the last moment, the North found its disheartened foes easier to conquer, winning eight matches and halving one that easily erased a 6-10 deficit at the start of the day.
Rallying to win actually allowed the North to return the favor after it had lost last year’s title by winning just four of 12 matches in the final day and failing to protect a 9-7 lead going into the singles.
Randy Garalde nailed a birdie putt from five feet on the 18th hole to pip Ferdie Aunzo, 1-up for what turned out to be the winning putt, which came moments after another unheralded bet in Ryan Lam rammed in a 20-footer for birdie also on 18 to square his match with Charles Hong and make it 13½ apiece.
“I just told my players to enjoy the round so that we would be playing without much pressure,” skipper Angelo Que, who started the North onslaught with a 2&1 win over Antonio Lascuña for the first point of the day.
Benjie Magada and Mars Pucay also notched victories, scoring similar 4&3 routs of Clyde Mondilla and Elmer Saban, respectively, before Jonel Ababa of the South forged the first all-square match with Joenard Rates.
Carl Santos-Ocampo knotted the tie for the first time yesterday with a clinical 5&4 dismantling of Marvin Dumandan, before Michael Bibat shoved the Northerners ahead with a 3&2 win over Mark Fernando.
And while action on the course proved dramatic, there was no bigger news earlier in the day when Pagunsan declared that he simply was not feeling well and wouldn’t be able to play, forcing skipper Jerome Delariarte to tap his assistant, the veteran Richard Sinfuego, in place of the 2011 Asian Tour Order of Merit winner as anchor.
Pagunsan, the biggest international ambassador of the organizing ICTSI, was actually fetched from his Sta. Rosa home by Delariarte and taken to the venue, only for him to say that he won’t be able to play. Delariarte also drove him back home.
Pagunsan’s pullout was the second one this year, with the first happening before the start of the second round of the Solaire Open, an Asian Tour event at Wack Wack also bankrolled by ICTSI president and golf patron Ricky Razon.
Colo Ventoza, who runs the events of the Pilipinas Golf Tournaments Inc., refused to pick up calls and answer text messages from the Inquirer. She and the other people in charge of the Tour are reportedly set to have a meeting today.
Pagunsan was suspended in August 2011 for the rest of the ICTSI Tour season after two similar incidents—first when he abandoned his flight at Forest Hills and second when he withdrew at the last minute from the Aboitiz Invitational after Cebu Country Club management refused to grant his personal caddy access to the course after Pagunsan didn’t comply with club rules of registering personal caddies to the caddy master.