BACOLOD CITY – Ira Alido did the unthinkable the way girlfriend Chanelle Avaricio essayed an improbable come-from-behind win in the women’s side of the ICTSI Negros Occidental Golf Classic presented by MORE Power, charging back from five shots down to beat Tony Lascuña and Rupert Zaragosa by one for the hotly-disputed men’s championship here yesterday.
So furious was the title chase that four tied for the lead after 54 holes of play at the tough Marapara layout and Alido rallied from joint 10th to make it a five-way logjam and Zaragoza joined the fray midway through the final round battle that turned the Philippine Golf Tour’s kickoff event this year into one of the most compelling in recent years.
But in a duel of nerves at the finish, the youngest among the chief contenders delivered, drilling in a pressure-packed curling 15-foot birdie putt on the last hole to fire a 64 four flights ahead of the championship group. He then watched the seasoned Lascuña, who needed a birdie to force a playoff, mishit his approach shot on the par-5 18th and miss a 25-footer.
No sudden death ensued but the hour-long wait proved to be more telling for the 22-year-old Alido.
“It was harder and tougher to wait than go to a playoff,” said Alido in jest. He totaled a 279 that included rounds of 69, 72 and 74 and snatched the top purse of P405,000.
Lascuña, who drew level with Alido in a long stretch at the back as the rest of the bidders fell off the heap one after the other, finished with a 70, enabling Zaragosa, in joint fifth at the start of the final round, to share runner-up honors at 280 after a 68. They split the combined prize of P418,500.
Frankie Miñoza, who led the stellar field in the first two rounds, trailed early on but kept on pressing his bid with clutch putts and birdies. He, however, scrambled at the finish with two birdies against the same number of bogeys for a 71 and solo fourth at 281 worth P119,250.
Zanieboy Gialon, who tied Miñoza, Lascuña and Guido Van der Valk at the helm after 54 holes, faded with bogeys on Nos. 16 and 17 and ended up with a 72 for joint fifth at 282 with Jhonnel Ababa, who shot a 69, while Van der Valk, who dominated the recent The Country Club Invitational, also lost steam in the stretch, reeling with a double-bogey on No. 14 and bogeys on Nos. 16 and 17. He signed for a 73 and placed seventh at 283.