JUVIC Pagunsan marked his return to the Philippine Golf Tour in grand fashion, posting a couple of records to claim the Order of Merit crown at the close the milestone 10th season of the country’s premier circuit recently.
The smooth-swinging Pagunsan vied in just five of nine tournaments and won four in consecutive fashion – both tour records – as Asia’s former No. 1 amassed earnings of P2,070,000 to edge multi-titled Tony Lascuña by a mere P78,070 after the latter, a four-time OOM titlist, finished with P1,991,930.
Pagunsan, who also captured the Merit crown with a dominant performance in 2011 before making Japan his base, was actually on a break from the region’s most lucrative circuit when he signed up for the second leg of this year’s circuit in Bacolod.
He came out of the P2.5 million event a winner by seven over Rufino Bayron, scored an expected four-stroke romp over James Ryan Lam in the P3 million tournament in his hometown in Negros Occidental, foiled Michael Bibat in sudden death in Iloilo, another P3 million event, then scored an eight-stroke victory over Lascuña in tough conditions at Riviera, a P2.5 million tournament, before resuming his campaign in Japan.
He returned to compete at PGT Del Monte but struggled in the second round, failed to mount a comeback in the last two days and wound up eighth. But Lascuna fell short of his rally he spiked with a sweep of the last two legs at Apo and South Pacific and missed nailing a fifth OOM title.
Dutch Guido Van der Valk, winner of the kickoff leg in Cebu, finished third with earnings of P1,234,575, followed by Pueblo de Oro leg winner Reymon Jaraula (P1,173,324), Michael Bibat (P1,128,416), Ira Alido (P1,023,950), Del Monte stage champion Jhonnel Ababa (P928, 605), 2017 OOM winner Clyde Mondilla (P680,083), Keanu Jahns (P627,316) and Rufino Bayron (P584,075).
Pagunsan, 41, also ruled the seventh leg of the third season of PGT Asia, winning over Lascuna via playoff at Summit Point to likewise put himself in the PGT Asia Merit mix with a number of tournaments still to be played early next year.
He is currently No. 6 with cumulative winnings of $20,735 in three tournaments with Lascuna, who became the first Filipino to win a PGTA event in Taiwan with a victory in Nan Pao Open last month, leading the race with $38,950 with CAT Open winner Aussie Tim Stewart in second with $32,570.