Nearly man Lascuna comes good in Sabah

MONKEY OFF THE BACK: Antonio Lascuna finally picks up his first win on the regional ASEAN PGA Tour circuit ©Khalid Redza/WSG
MONKEY OFF THE BACK: Antonio Lascuna finally picks up his first win on the regional ASEAN PGA Tour circuit ©Khalid Redza/WSG

Tournament-Logo---Sabah-Masters- No Year - CopyKota Kinabalu, Sabah: Filipino stalwart Antonio Lascuna wore down pacesetter Mardan Mamat in a thrilling play-off to claim the Sabah Masters on Saturday – his first-ever victory on the ASEAN PGA Tour.

The unassuming 42-year-old from Davao started the final round five strokes off the lead but stormed back with an impressive five-under 66 to haul himself into contention in the US$75,000 season-finale at the Sutera Harbour Golf & Country Club.

Singaporean number one Mardan failed to fire on all cylinders as he let slip a two-shot cushion coming into the final stretch, missing a six-footer for birdie on the 17th before dropping an uncharacteristic bogey on the last to finish even-par 71. It meant that the veteran duo were level at the top on 11-under-par 273 with extra holes needed to decide the winner.

Coming in sole third was Anthony Fernando of the Philippines, the joint runner-up here in 2011 closing with a strong six-under 65 to finish three strokes behind the leaders.

Nachimuthu Ramasamy (68) topped the Malaysian contenders with a seven-under 277 alongside Indonesian Rory Hie (65) with local star Nicholas Fung struggling to live up to expectations with a poor final round 74, finishing a stroke adrift of sixth-placed Pavit Tangkamolprasert and Somkiat Srisanga of Thailand.

It however proved enough for the 22-year-old to claim a historic double, clinching the ASEAN PGA’s Money List in addition to being  the reigning Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Order of Merit champion.

Nicholas totalled US$31,884 on the back of winning the Palembang Musi Championship and a playoff defeat at the Singha Esan Open, to finish ahead of Thailand’s Gunn Charoenkul (US$28,742).

There was little to separate Antonio and Mardan in the play-off until the latter took a drink with his approach on the third extra hole to concede the victory to his Filipino opponent, who earned a cheque for US$12,918.

“I am really excited. It is a relief to finally win. It was a great battle with my elder brother Mardan who kept giving me chances,” said the 18-time winner on the Philippine domestic circuit.

Lascuna first started playing on the ASEAN PGA Tour in 2008 and has accumulated two second place finishes, a couple of third placings and a total of nine top-fives.

“I always told myself to be patient and not force things. I felt a win would come eventually even if I least expected it today. My opening three birdies definitely helped me focus and I was lucky in the play-off because there was little separating us,” added Lascuna.

Leading final round scores
273 – Antonio Lascuna (PHI) 67-69-71-66, Mardan Mamat 67-66-69-71
(Lascuna wins on the third extra hole)
276 – Anthony Fernando 72-70-69-65
277 – Rory Hie (INA) 71-73-68-65, R. Nachimuthu72-71-66-68
279 – Pavit Tangkamolprasert 73-71-67-68, Somkiat Srisanga (THA) 69-68-69-73
280 – Nicholas Fung 72-65-69-74
281 – S. Sivachandhran 71-68-71-71
282 – Wisut Artjawat (THA) 73-69-70-70, Danny Chia 69-73-68-72