CARMONA, Cavite—Antonio Lascuña closed out with three straight birdies to shoot a 4-under-par 68 yesterday and erect a two-stroke lead over the veteran Cassius Casas halfway through the P2.5 million ICTSI Manila Southwoods Championship here.
Lascuña recovered his mean scoring form in the toughest stretch of the bunker-laden Legends layout and will take a 12-under 132 aggregate heading into the final two rounds of the event that offers P450,000 to the champion.
Casas returned a second straight 67 as he recalled his brilliant past, gunning down six birdies against a single bogey in a 34-33 card.
Rufino Bayron, the former national team member still looking for a first win in the circuit as a pro, birdied his last four holes on the front nine on the way to a 66 for 135 to join today’s final threesome.
Teen prodigy Miguel Tabuena stood five strokes off Lascuña after carding a 68 like Jonel Ababa, who was another stroke behind together with Marvin Dumandan, who returned a 69.
“My driving was off,” said Lascuña, who won this event when it was played at the adjacent Masters course last year, in Filipino. “It’s a good thing that I made a lot of putts for birdies.”
Lascuña being in the thick of the fight was not surprising but Casas being there was a pleasant surprise.
A former Philippine Open champion, Casas is winless for more than two years since being awarded a victory at Del Monte when the frontrunners were disqualified.
“I have been practicing a lot and being patient with my game,” said Casas, who also enjoyed playing privileges at Southwoods during his prime. “I miss being there, contending for championship.”
Gerald Rosales, another former PH Open winner, fired a 71 and caught Japanese Tomokazu Yoshinaga and Mark Fernando at 139. Yoshinaga fired a 72 and Fernando a 73.
The revered Frankie Miñoza, a two-time winner this year, was also in Rosales’ group after a 69. Jay Bayron (65), Mars Pucay (68) and Elmer Salvador (66) were also seven shots adrift.
Other backers of the event are Nike Golf, Srixon, Custom Clubmakers, Pacsports, Cleveland Golf, Callaway, Ping, Mizuno, Empire Golf and Sports Shop, FootJoy, Titleist, Sharp, BMW and Gergia Energy Foods.