Silang, Cavite—Juvic Pagunsan finally unleashed the kind of game expected from a player of his caliber, shooting a five-under 66 and storming to a whopping four-stroke lead over a late-charging Angelo Que in the third round of the ICTSI Riviera Golf Challenge at the Langer course here yesterday.
With the wind not blowing as hard as in the first two rounds that sent the scores soaring and two of the fancied bets out of the title race, Pagunsan flaunted his superb shotmaking skills, his crisp iron shots setting up a lot of birdie chances, four of which he drilled inside 10 feet at the front that put him away of halfway co-leader and uncle Rey Pagunsan and the rest of his erstwhile pursuers.
He went five-under with another birdie on the 10th then rebounded from a third straight bogey on the par-3 12th with his sixth birdie on the next for a 31-35 card and a 54-hole total 208 as Asia’s former No. 1 moved 18 holes away from nailing his breakthrough win on the Philippine Golf Tour Asia.
“It was just fantastic. Everything was in place and the wind not as strong as in the first two days,” said Juvic who nevertheless remained wary of Que’s threat to his title drive in the $100,000 event serving as the penultimate leg of the 10-stage second season of the region’s newest circuit put up by ICTSI and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Four strokes off the pace after 36 holes, Que had earlier set the tone of the big guns’ assault on the par-71 layout with a 32, spiking his similar 66 with a 25-foot eagle putt on the par-5 10th off a superb 3-wood second shot from 247 yards.
“Finally, I regained my touch and got the feel of my game. I hit it pretty well and my iron and putting clicked,” said Que, also in pursuit of his first PGT Asia win after spending majority of the last few years on the lucrative Japan PGA Tour.
But he remained four strokes back at 212 although the former Philippine Open champion assured an explosive final round showdown with his fellow Japan PGA Tour campaigner.
From what had been a wild first two rounds that saw at least 15 players get a crack at the lead in this event serving as prelude to next week’s Solaire Phl Open and last year’s winner and reigning PGT Order of Merit champion Jobim Carlos and former OOM titlist Clyde Mondilla miss the cut, the title duel has been virtually reduced to the two local aces with the next four laying nine strokes behind at 217.
Jerson Balasabas, the reigning Philippine Masters champion, shot a 69, Rico Depilo and Elmer Salvador carded identical 70s and Lexus Keoninh of the US hobbled with a 74 with Singapore’s Gregory Foo, Korean Hwang Myung Chal and Thai Sutijet Kooratanapisan pooling similar 218s after a 70, 72 and 73, respectively.
PGTA Summit Point titlist Joenard Rates matched par 71 to lead the 219 scorers who included Englishman George Twyman, who shot a 74, and PGTA Aboitiz Invitational winner Damien Jordan of Australia and Macedonia’s Peter Stojanovski, who both turned in 75s.
Worse was Rey Pagunsan, who kept his spot on top with a 70 and 72 but ended the third round with seven bogeys and three double bogeys with no birdie to show in a horrible 84 for a 226 in the event backed by Custom Clubmakers, Meralco, K&G Golf Apparel, BDO, Sharp, KZG, PLDT, Empire Golf and Sports and M.Y. Shokai Technology, Inc., expected to be a survival of the fittest.
“I threw it all away but I’m still proud that a Pagunsan remains the leader,” said the former national team mainstay.