Juvic Pagunsan
Rested Juvic Pagunsan begins hunt for third straight crown
(The Philippine Star) - June 26, 2019 - 12:00am

ILOILO, Philippines — Juvic Pagunsan packed his stuff and hurriedly left Bacolod heading here Monday, all geared up for a third straight championship in the ICTSI Iloilo Golf Challenge firing off today at the Iloilo Golf and Country Club in Sta. Barbara.

In fact, the ace Negrense took part in yesterday’s pro-am to re-familiarize himself with the par-70 layout he hopes to pound with under-par scores the way he did in Bacolod Golf Club and Negros Occidental Golf and Country Club the last two weeks.

The region’s former No. 1 had earlier hinted at skipping this week’s P3 million event after sweeping the Bacolod legs of the four-stage Visayan swing of the circuit sponsored by ICTSI to take a much-needed break. But he decided at the last minute to play and resume his bid to match Tony Lascuña’s three-peat feat at Eagle Ridge, Forest Hills and Bacolod in 2016.

“I have rested and my wife’s okay,” said Pagunsan, referring to his spouse, who fell ill last week, prompting him to reconsider his decision to play and defend his crown in the Negros Occidental Golf Classic.

“Now, I can fully concentrate (on my game) although I don’t want to sound so confident. But as always, I’ll give it my best shot,” added Pagunsan, who hopes to flaunt his shot-making skills again on a hazard-laden course which requires accuracy off the tee and a solid short game to buck the challenges lurking from the trees, hills and rolling terrains.

That makes the 41-year-old Japan PGA Tour campaigner the top favorite in the 72-hole championship organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc., kicking off his bid for another crown at 7:55 a.m. on No. 10 with yesterday’s pro-am winner Elmer Salvador and Teemu Putkonen of Finland.

But a host of others are also going flat out to foil his bid, including James Ryan Lam and Nilo Salahog, runner-up and joint third placer, respectively, last week, along with Jhonnel Ababa, Tony Lascuña, Jay Bayron, Michael Bibat, Keanu Jahns, Ira Alido, Joenard Rates and Justin Quiban.

“I think I’ll go for the reachable par-4s but I have to play it smart,” said Lam, who actually threatened within one off Pagunsan after 36 holes in Negros but faltered in the third round with a 71 before rallying with a 69 to snare runner-up honors.

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