Antipolo—Hounded by a throng of pursuers in a rousing frontside battle, Reymon Jaraula repelled them with a decisive birdie-eagle feat from No. 10 then lived through a wobbly finish to pound out a 71 and a five-stroke victory over Lloyd Go and Clyde Mondilla in the ICTSI Valley Golf Challenge here on Friday.
Mondilla did match Jaraula’s exploits on Nos. 10 and 11 to wrest solo second but failed to gain any stroke in the stretch with a spate of pars marred by a couple of late bogeys, his drive to end a long title drought hampered by a missed birdie putt from four feet on par-4 No. 9 of Valley South.
In contrast, Jaraula fueled his own bid with a big par-save on the same hole, punching a shot from the trees to the front of the green then chipping way past the sloping hole. But he returned a pressure-packed putt from six feet, drawing subdued applause from the gallery, that, however, was left in virtual shock as Mondilla blew his birdie try from close range.
Averting a possible 2-shot swing, Jaraula kept his overnight two-stroke lead intact over Alido while holding off the charges of Korean Chon Koo Kang, Japanese Ueda Atsushi, Jhonnel Ababa, Go and Mondilla in a round that started in a shaft of sunlight, played through dark skies midway through before ending in sweltering conditions at mid-noon.
The Del Monte ace then pulled away by 5 with that big backside blast, coupled with Alido’s uncharacteristic double-bogeys on Nos. 12 and 13, that not even his miscues on Nos. 16 and 18 could derail his claim to a second Philippine Golf Tour crown.
“There was pressure from the start – I had a couple of mishits and bogeyed the first two holes. But I told myself to just relax and try to rebound at the back nine,” said Jaraula in Filipino.
“But I regained my confidence after saving par on No. 9 then made a birdie-eagle start at the back,” added Jaraula, whose 10-under 278 total netted him P360,000, four years after hitting paydirt with a playoff victory over Tony Lascuña at Pueblo de Oro.
Go rallied with a 69 to tie Mondilla, who scrambled for a 72, at second at 283 and received P186,000 each while Aidric Chan took the low amateur honors with a day-best 66 as he fashioned out a strong joint fourth place finish with recent Villamor Philippine Masters winner Ababa, who also closed out with 72, at 284.
Alido missed his birdie chance on No. 10 but birdied the next although his mishaps in the next two holes dropped him out of the title chase. The Bacolod leg winner wound up with a 76 and finished at joint sixth at 285 with Zanieboy Gialon, who shot a 69, Gabriel Manotoc, Rico Depilo and Guido van der Valk, who matched 70s, and Keanu Jahns and Lascuna, who carded identical 72s.
Jaraula’s bogeys in the first two holes had hinted at the coming of a wild finish to the P2 million championship put up by ICTSI and though Alido, who started the final round two shots off the former, also tripped with two bogeys in the first three holes, it enabled at least seven players to get a crack at the crown.
They included Kang and Ueda with the former moving within two with a frontside 34 and the latter putting in a 35 to close within three as Jaraula and Alido wrestled with 37s.
Ababa likewise sparked hopes of a reprise of his come-from-behind win at Villamor two weeks ago when he threatened within two at five-under overall with a birdie on No. 5. He, however, slipped back with a bogey on the eighth and a missed birdie chance on the next.
Go also got into the mix with a 34 while Mondilla bucked a bogey-bogey skid from No. 2 with a birdie on the seventh and erased the stigma of a flubbed birdie putt on the ninth by matching Jaraula’s birdie-eagle start at the back in the final group of the championship organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
But Jaraula picked up another stroke on No. 13 and Mondilla settled for five pars before closing out with back-to-back mishaps against the former’s bogeys in the closing holes.
Jaraula later said he will try to get better and stronger as the Tour heads to Forest Hills, also in Antipolo, in two weeks time, saying: “I’ll take some rest then get back to work and hope to get better. Sana manalo pa uli.”