2017 The Duel: North pulls away in foursomes, leads by 3

Team North spearhead Miguel Tabuena reads the line of their putt on No. 9 as teammate Joenard Rates looks on.

North sustained its form in team play and knocked down South in foursomes, 4-2, yesterday as it moved five singles wins away from wresting The Duel – North vs South crown at the Camp John Hay Golf Club here.

Mars Pucay and Ira Alido followed up their 5&4 rout of brothers Jay and Rufino Bayron in four-ball Wednesday with a 1-up victory over Jhonnel Ababa and Zanieboy Gialon while Miguel Tabuena and new partner Joenard Rates likewise went 2-for-2 with an emphatic 6&5 victory over Rufino Bayron and Orlan Sumcad to lead the Northerners’ second day romp in the country’s version of the Ryder Cup sponsored by ICTSI.

The two teams then traded a pair of 5&4 routs in the last four pairings in the alternate shot format event as Team North, which took the better-ball, 3 1/2-2 1/2, seized a 7 1/2-4 1/2 lead heading to the deciding 12 singles matches today.

This time, the top guns from Luzon vowed to atone for their final day meltdown and complete what they had failed to do in 2015 at Wack Wack.

North led, 8 1/2 -3 1/2, in the fourth edition of the event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. but South rallied and won nine out of 12 singles to steal the crown and complete a back-to-back victory.

“I trust my players and we had learned our lesson from our last experience. We need only to win five matches so we’ll try to finish them off early,” said North skipper Artemio Murakami.

To underscore their bid, Murakami is fielding in Tabuena against Sumcad in the first singles match at 7 a.m. today with rookie Alido mixing it up with veteran Mhark Fernando next even as Rates goes for a sweep of his three matches against Ababa.

South’s 1-2 punch Tony Lascuña and Clyde Mondilla figure out their shot outside the green on No. 9.

Gerald Rosales and Elmer Salvador will clash next, followed by Keanu Jahns-Tony Lascuña, Justin Quiban-Jerson Balasabas, Randy Garalde- Gialon, James Ryan Lam-Clyde Mondilla, Michael Bibat-Rufino Bayron, Pucay-Cassius Casas, Benjie Magada-Rene Menor, and Jobim Carlos-Jay Bayron face-offs.

“Don’t be surprised if we win again as we did the last time out,” said Team South captain Charles Hong. “With my players, I don’t need to motivate them since they are already motivated and talented. We know we can win this again.”

Meanwhile, Mondilla and Lascuña ripped Rosales and Quiban, while Jay Bayron and Salvador blasted Magada and Lam to deliver the two wins for South in foursomes while the Jahns-Garalde and Bibat-Carlos pairs delivered the two other wins for Team North over the Menor-Fernando and Balasabas-Casas tandems, all via 5&4 scorelines.

Pucay and Alido actually fell by one hole behind after No. 12 but strung up three straight holes from No. 14 to go 2-up then halved the 18th to clinch the 1-up victory after Ababa and Gialon pulled to within one by taking No. 17.

Tabuena and Rates turned in the most impressive win in the day, going 3-up after four holes then taking Nos. 7, 10 and 11, denying Rufino Bayron and Sumcad any hole for that 6&5 rout, the most lopsided triumph posted in the event backed by Aboitiz, KZG, PLDT, Custom Clubmakers, K&G, Sharp, Champion, BDO, Summit Mineral Water, Event Captain, Meralco and MY Shokai Technology, Inc.

Lascuña and Mondilla, the top two in the current Philippine Golf Tour Order of Merit rankings, also dominated Rosales and Quiban, winning five of the first 11 holes, while Jay Bayron and Salvador broke away from Magada and Lam by stringing up four straight holes from No. 10.

Jahns and Garalde, meanwhile, ripped Menor and Fernando by taking five of six holes from No. 7, including four straight from No. 9, while Bibat and Carlos went 3-up after eight holes and won Nos. 13 and 14 to overwhelm Balasabas and Casas.