Tony, Harmie bag match play

He quickly took the lead on the par-5 second hole following a well-executed tee shot just over a small pond. He reached the back of the green after a three-wood approach shot.

Tony Lascuña and Harmie Constantino are champions of the ICTSI Villamor Match Play Championship at the Villamor Golf Club in Pasay City Friday. | Photograph by Bob Dungo Jr. for the daily tribune @tribunephl_bob

Tony Lascuña and Harmie Constantino made history as the first match-play champions of the ICSTI-backed professional tours after posting contrasting victories at the Villamor Golf Club in Pasay City Friday.

Lascuna, the 52-year-old warrior, ended a string of runner-up finishes by outclassing Keanu Jahns, 4 and 3.

Constantino, on the other hand, outdueled amateur hotshot Rianne Malixi after 19 holes, winning the last two for a 1-up triumph.

It was a masterful performance from Lascuna, a four-time Order of Merit champion, who used his accuracy off the tee and razor-sharp irons to bring down the 27-year-old Jahns.

He quickly took the lead on the par-5 second hole following a well-executed tee shot just over a small pond. He reached the back of the green after a three-wood approach shot.

Jahns sent his tee shot on the edge of the fairway and watched his punched shot rolled into the water. After missing his par attempt from the outside, he conceded as Lascuña was preparing for a birdie putt from eight feet.

Lascuña built a 4-hole lead before Jahns won his first hole on the ninth after his birdie chip hit the bottom of the cup.

After the two long par-4 holes, Lascuña was again up by four before Jahns rallied to trim the deficit to only two going into 14.

On the par-4 15th, the toughest hole on the course, Lascuña had a bad tee shot nearly going out of bounds before the ball hit a part of the building on the left side and landed about 40 yards over the small pond.

He reached for his three-wood and smashed the ball in front of the green and saved par.

Jahns was in trouble after sending his tee shot on the row of trees on the right side of the fairway, He was forced to play out and made bogey.

Leading by three holes going to 15, a par-4 that doglegs to the left, Lascuña sent his tee shot under the trees on the left side of the fairway.

In contrast, Jahns found the middle of the fairway.

Lascuña produced a spectacular escape shot, shaping his approach that stuck the ball within 12 feet off the cup.

Jahns sealed his doom when he sent his attempt into the bunker.

Nothing bothered the seasoned champion until he slipped on the cart path on 10.

“I didn’t realize it was slippery. I felt the pain on 11. If the match was level, I might quit. But I endured the pain,” he said in Filipino.

Jahns was gracious in defeat.

“I was not actually pressured. Tony played a superior game. He played steady all throughout and putted well. It’s hard to beat him when he plays that good,” he said.

Lascuna’s 24th professional victory came two years after he contracted Covid-19.

“I thought I was going to die,” Lascuña recalled.

With new-found confidence, Lascuña is looking forward to next season.

“I hope to qualify for the Japan senior tour,” he said.

Constantino showed resilience in thwarting Malixi who finally tasted her first defeat at home.

Trailing two holes early on, the two-time winner this year won 10 and 11 to bring the match back to square one.

Both had makeable birdie putts on the par-3 12th but both missed.

Malixi again seized the lead on 17 after hitting her tee shot just below the hole.

However, Constantino got a new lease on life when Malixi sent her approach into the water.

Returning to the par-4 No. 1, Malixi stuck her approach to within 12 feet while Constantino found the rough 40 yards off the pin.

But in a dramatic finale, Constantino found the cup and watched her young rival miss the tying putt.

“It’s unexplainable, I just can’t believe it,” Constantino exclaimed.

“My caddie and I were only trying to land it a couple of yards before the flag and make it roll out. I just wanted to make it close as much as I can but not really hole it in. So, it’s a bonus.”

It was a sorry loss for Malixi who controlled the match despite missing several makeable putts.

Constantino and Lascuña pocketed P280,000 each.

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