CARMONA, Cavite—Antonio Lascuña clustered five straight birdies from the first hole yesterday on the way to a five-under-par 67 and zoomed to a five-stroke lead over three dangerous bidders heading into the final round of the P2.5-million ICTSI Manila Southwoods Championship.
Lascuña made the turn at 30 before slowing down on his final nine holes for a 54-hole aggregate of 199 and a comfortable buffer on the trio of Miguel Tabuena, Rufino Bayron and former Philippine Open champion Cassius Casas.
Tabuena also fired a 67, Bayron shot a 69 and Casas turned in another solid 70 as they kept a mathematical chance of turning the tables on Lascuña and spoiling his repeat bid.
“The only advantage I have is that I have the lead,” said Lascuña, who won this event over the long-hitting Angelo Que at the adjacent Masters layout last year, in Filipino. “I’ll just play my usual game and see what happens.”
The 44-year-old Davaoeño canned his sixth birdie on the front nine on the par-5 eighth before dropping his first shot on the 11th, where he hit a wayward drive and found the fairway bunker. He had another birdie and a second bogey the rest of the way.
Should Lascuña complete a coast-to-coast win today, it will snap a string of five close calls since May, after he won the Calatagan stop in Batangas.
Tabuena was flawless in a 33-34 card, while Bayron, seeking his first win as a pro, mixed six birdies with three bogeys to blow into contention.
Casas, meanwhile, bucked a double bogey-6 start and went on to post nines of 35-35. He has broken par in each of the first three rounds.
Journeyman Orlan Sumcad fired a 66 and Jonel Ababa assembled a 67 to share fifth spot at 205, six shots off Lascuña, with Mars Pucay shooting a 67 to be another stroke back.
The legendary Frankie Miñoza and fellow former PH Open champions Elmer Salvador and Gerald Rosales all submitted 68s to be at 207, all needing a super low round today to secure a top-three finish.
Other backers of the event, organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments Inc., 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.