TARLAC – David Gleeson ended a long title spell in thrilling fashion, battling back from two down with four holes to go in regulation before edging Erwin Arcillas on the third playoff hole to snare the hotly-disputed ICTSI Luisita Championship crown at the Luisita Golf and Country Club here yesterday.
In a pressure-packed duel of 40-year-olds, Gleeson birdied the difficult No. 15 while Arcillas bogeyed the 17th to force a playoff as they finished with similar 11-under 277.
He closed out with a 72 while Arcillas made a 71.
Both parred their next two trips on the par-4 18th with Gleeson, battling it through the searing heat for the fourth straight day, failing to cash in on his solid drives and Arcillas recovering from a pair of wayward shots to extend the match to a third hole.
But the Brisbane native made sure to wrap it all up the third time around.
After splitting the fairway again, Gleeson knocked it down to within 12 feet and buried the putt, snatching the victory and the top $17,500 purse from the clutches of Arcillas, who drove into the rough and missed the green.
“It was tough but I know I can handle it. I’m prepared for a long game,” said Gleeson, who also needed to buck difficult pin placements, the hot weather and a tough Arcillas to hack out the victory, his first since ruling the 2011 Indian Open. It was also his first local win since powering Team Australia to the 1996 World Amateurs title at Manila Southwoods in 1996.
“I just focused on my game, played smart and grabbed every opportunity,” he added.
That included a two-stroke penalty slapped on Arcillas, who forgot his wedge on the putting green of No. 1. He told his caddie to go back but the latter rode a golf cart, which was not allowed. Arcillas birdied the short par-3 No. 2 but wound up with a bogey for the penalty.
“Despite the loss, I’m happy because it was a very good game. I didn’t expect to contend but I even almost won it,” said Arcillas, who took home his richest paycheck to date worth $11,500. “Actually, I wanted to quit after that penalty but I told myself to just go on and fight.”
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