Pagunsan sputters, blows lead with 67

The Philippine Star

Posted at Sep 23 2012 12:35 PM | Updated as of Sep 23 2012 08:35 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Juvic Pagunsan blew what could’ve been an explosive round – and a crucial third round lead – as he wavered at the finish, bogeying two of the last six holes and settling for a four-under 67 to trail Masamichi Uehira by one in the rich Asia-Pacific Panasonic Open at Higashi Hirono Golf Club in Hyogo, Japan yesterday.

Pagunsan, who birdied the last three holes Friday to gain a share of second, one stroke behind Hiroyuki Fujita, birdied the first three holes in the third to seize control, then stayed on top with four more birdies against a bogey in the next nine holes. But he failed to rescue pars on Nos. 13 and 15 and missed a couple of birdie putts in the last three holes to drop out of the lead.

Still, his 13-under 200 aggregate put the ace Filipino shotmaker, the reigning Asian Tour No. 1, within sight of a first title on the lucrative circuit in three years, as he remained just one shot behind new leader Uehira, who sizzled with a six-under 65, spiked by three birdies in the last four holes, for a 199.

Tomohiro Kondo and Masahiro Kawamura both shot 66s to tie Koumei Oda, who made a 68, at 201.

While Yusaku Miyazato carded a 68 to catch a faltering Fujita, slowed down with a 70, at 202, guaranteeing a shootout in the final round of the $1.9 million tournament.

But focus will surely be on the smooth-swinging Pagunsan, who kept the momentum of his stirring windup halfway through with a fiery start of three birdies in row, including a pitch-in on the first hole. He dropped a stroke on No. 4 but after a routine par on the fifth, he birdied three of the next four to make the turn at 30 and in the lead.

He birdied the par-3 11th, saved par from eight feet on the next but bogeyed two of the next three before settling for pars the rest of the way for a 37 and a 67.

Angelo Que, the other Filipino who made the cut, fired a 70 for joint 42nd at 211, 12 strokes behind Uehira.