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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Young Ramos pulls ahead of seasoned Lascuña, fires 66

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CABANATUAN City—Sean Ramos moved on the cusp of a breakthrough victory on the Philippine Golf Tour, edging out Tony Lascuña in a captivating showdown between emerging talent and seasoned campaigner to seize a one-stroke lead with a flawless 66 in the third round of the ICTSI Lakewood Championship on Thursday.

Ramos kept his mastery of Lakewood’s front nine, displacing joint leaders Art Arbole and Lascuña with another impressive five-under 31. Despite slowing down to one birdie at the backside, the young Asian Development Tour competitor maintained his position atop the leaderboard with a three-day total of 13-under 203.

“My ball-striking was solid today (Thursday). I missed only three greens. My putting was also on point, allowing me to score low,” said Ramos. “Everything from driving to putting clicked well, so I’m very pleased with my performance.”

Having previously led during early rounds in other tournaments, Ramos, 20, expressed confidence in holding his first outright tournament lead, especially against experienced Tour veterans.

“I’ll focus on hitting fairways and greens and aim to avoid bogeys. Par is always a good score,” he added.

While Ramos displayed consistency, Lascuña showcased resilience, recovering from a challenging three-bogey skid from No. 10 by firing three birdies from the 13th, narrowly missing joining Ramos in the lead after a missed birdie opportunity from four feet on the closing par-5 hole.

“I was so close—that missed putt on the last hole could have tied it,” said Lascuña, who remained in contention for another victory with an eagle-aided 68 for a 204.

As Ramos surged ahead at the front and Lascuña dealt with a fluctuating start at the back, the gap widened to three strokes before Lascuña rallied with a trio of birdies within six feet, putting him back in the title hunt in the P2.5 million championship sponsored by ICTSI.

Facing off against an opponent 33 years his junior, Lascuña aims to apply pressure on Ramos and draw upon his wealth of experience in what promises to be an intense battle for the top prize of P450,000.

“I’ve been in these situations before. Just sticking to what I know works,” said Lascuña, seeking his 54th career win, which includes victories overseas, including one in Taiwan in 2019.

Reymon Jaraula joined the championship flight with a 205, boosted by three birdies in the final five holes for a 68, positioning himself for another Philippine Golf Tour triumph after dominating at Valley last year.

Although Jaraula missed matching Lascuña’s three-day total on a missed eagle putt from eight feet on the 18th, he vowed to maintain focus in the final round, particularly on the challenging greens of Lakewood.

“Putting was a bit of a struggle today (Thursday). I’ll take whatever tomorrow brings, but my focus needs to be sharp,” said Jaraula.

Ozeki Kakeru matched Ramos’ strong start on the front nine with a 31, briefly creating a four-way tie at 11-under before slipping with bogeys on the 11th and 12th. However, he regained momentum with a birdie on the last hole, carding a 68 for a 206.

Despite the unpredictability of the tricky Lakewood course, where no lead is entirely safe, Albin Engino will need a stellar performance to contend for his maiden victory. He finished with a 68, placing him at solo fifth with a 207.

Meanwhile, first-round leader Hyun Ho Rho staged a comeback with four birdies starting from the 12th hole but settled for pars on the final three holes, concluding with a 71 marred by a double-bogey on the 11th. The Korean finished with a total of 209 for sixth place.

Art Arbole, who initially shared the lead with Lascuña, struggled to keep pace with Ramos and Lascuña in the featured flight, bogeying the 11th and dropping three strokes on the par-4 15th. He ended with a 75, falling to joint seventh at 211 with Ivan Monsalve (69), Dino Villanueva (69), Eric Gallardo (69), and Rupert Zaragosa (73).


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