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Nerves of steel

Rey Bancod

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CLYDE Mondilla trounces Antonio Lascuña in the playoffs to rule the ICTSI Pradera Verde golf championship.

LUBAO, Pampanga — Clyde Mondilla birdied the par-5, 9th hole thrice on his way to a playoff victory over veteran Antonio Lascuña in the ICTSI Pradera Verde golf championship yesterday.

The victory capped a dramatic final round in which five players forced a playoff after finishing 72 holes at 4-under par apiece.

Mondilla, the 26-year-old Del Monte ace, rallied from five shots down at the start of the day with a blistering five-under par 67 behind six birdies against a lone bogey.

Playing five flights ahead, Mondilla signed his scorecard and waited patiently at the clubhouse, wondering if he could make it to the 9 p.m. return flight back home in Bukidnon.

Englishman Joe Knox looked headed for victory, going 6-under with five holes left but three-putted No. 15 and 16 to fall back to 4-under overall. He finished the final round at 71.

Rupert Zaragosa, the only player to break par in all four rounds, made back-to-back birdies from No. 12 and joined the playoff with a fourth straight 71.

Lascuña and Japanese Toru Nakajima made it a five-horse race following a closing 71 and 72, respectively.

It marked the first time that five players finished tied for the lead after four rounds.

Even before the playoffs started, rains started to fall as the players were shuttled to the 600-yard, No. 9, a slight dogleg hole with water in play on the left side.

Zaragosa, Knox and Nakajima were eliminated outright after missing their birdie attempts while Mondilla buried a 12-footer and Lascuña tapped in for birdies.

Mondilla and Lascuña went back to No. 9 for the second extra hole.

This time, Mondilla prevailed after draining a 10-footer from nearly the same spot. He punched his fist in the air and embraced Lascuña who had earlier missed his own attempt from almost the same distance.

It marked the first time that five players finished tied for the lead after four rounds.

“I knew I had the advantage when told that No. 9 was designated as playoff hole,” said Mondilla in the vernacular. “I have a chance to attack the hole.”

In regulation play, Mondilla had a monster drive at No. 9 and used only a pitching wedge to set up an eagle attempt. He two-putted for birdie.

Mondilla said he tried to attack the green, but knew that the worst thing that could happen was to miss it to the right.

He did. Twice. And Mondilla simply wedged it to the same spot where he made both putts.

Mondilla went home with the $17,500 first prize.

Australian Jack Lane-Weston, who shared the lead in the first round, missed the playoff by one shot after turning in a 69 for 3-under overall.

Tied for seventh at 2-under were Jhonnel Ababa and Dutchman Guido Van der Valk who closed out with identical 69s.

Three players were bunched at 1-under, namely: Ira Christian Alido (73), Keanu Jahns (73) and Marcos Pastor of Spain (75).

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