BACOLOD CITY – Juvic Pagunsan swept the Bacolod legs of the four-leg Visayan swing of the Philippine Golf Tour in emphatic fashion, beating James Ryan Lam by four with a 69 and retaining the ICTSI Negros Occidental Classic crown here yesterday.
Pagunsan shrugged off an early pressure from Nilo Salahog and a brief challenge from Lam, finishing with three birdies against two bogeys to win big despite churning out his “worst” round in four days after a pair of 66s and a 68 for an 11-under 269.
Still, his closing 34-35 proved enough to outclass practically the same field he dominated in last week’s Bacolod Golf Challenge in Binitin, which he won by seven over Rufino Bayron, thus becoming the first player to score back-to-back leg wins on the PGT since Clyde Mondilla topped the Manila Southwoods Championship and the Philippine Masters in May 2017.
The multi-titled shotmaker, who edged absentee Jobim Carlos in two extra holes here last year, also became the first player to successfully defend a crown in the circuit put up by ICTSI since Tony Lascuña won the Forest Hills Championship in 2016-17.
“This is one of my toughest wins. I really struggled this week and couldn’t focus,” said Pagunsan, whose latest feat capped a week of uncertainties for the hometown hero who had thought of withdrawing from the P3 million event he ruled in a playoff last year to attend to his ailing wife.
But assured of her recovery, Pagunsan did play – and contend early with a 66, surged ahead with another four-under card Thursday and held on to a one-stroke lead over Salahog with a third round 68.