WITH a huge lead, Ira Alido turned the final round of the ICTSI Riviera Championship into a victory walk – cruising to a nine-stroke romp over Jobim Carlos, Nilo Salahog and Michael Bibat despite a closing 73 at the Langer course in Silang, Cavite yesterday.
Thanks to a solid 64 in the third round, a stirring output fashioned out in exacting conditions that put him way out in front by eight strokes over Bibat and second day leader Zanieboy Gialon.
The lead was so huge it probably made his pursuers grow tired just figuring out how to overhaul it as Bibat and Gialon came out flat in a final round practically reduced to a coronation stroll for the 19-year-old Alido.
Pressure-free, he bogeyed Nos. 3 and 4, miscues that hardly mattered as Bibat also made the turn at 37 and Gialon faded with a 40, paving the way for Alido’s unhampered roll that erased the stigma of his two meltdowns after leading through 54 holes in a young pro career, including in PGT Asia at Wack Wack last year.
Alido assembled a seven-under 277 to complete one of the Tour’s most lopsided wins. It more than doubled Tony Lascuña’s four-shot triumph over him and Rupert Zaragosa in the first of two PGT bubble tournaments in the ICTSI Riviera Invitational Challenge at the Couples course, the less daunting of the two Riviera championship courses, three weeks ago.
But after firing back-to-back 70s at the par-71 Langer layout and trailed by just one off Gialon, he knew he had a chance.
So did the majority of the rest. Unlike them, however, Alido, who turned in five Top 10 finishes to finish No. 6 in the Order of Merit last season, cashed in on his fine form and stamina to produce a brilliant 64 Thursday which he used as springboard to a career breakthrough worth P337,500.
Carlos matched par 71 to tie Bibat, who limped with a 74, and Salahog, who carded a 72, at second at 286 worth P150,000 each while Lascuña regained his range, rhythm and touch too late, finishing with a 68 but salvages a share of fifth at 287 with Zaragosa, who also carded a 71. Each received P88,750.
Angelo Que, who sizzled with a 67 in the opener of the P2.5 million championship put up by ICTSI but struggled with 73 and 74 to drop out of the race, wound up with another three-over card for solo seventh at 288, while Gialon, who sparkled with a 65 Wednesday to wrest control, skied to a 77 and ended up tied for eighth at 289 with Sean Talmadge and Korean Park Jun Sung, who, shot 72 and 75, respectively.
Like Lascuña, Miguel Tabuena rallied with a day’s best 67 on five birdies against a bogey and saved a joint 11th place finish at 291 with American Lexus Keoninh and Justin Quiban, who made 75 and 78, respectively.
But the last two days simply belonged to Alido, who barged into the pro circuit in 2018 with a lot of promise and through he squandered two third round leads, he gained so much from those setbacks, using them as motivation to get better and tougher.
He persevered during the long Covid-19 break, staying fit and in shape through home practice although he had admitted it’s a different thing being on the range or fairways where he could hit balls and where he could gauge his progress as a player.
With the organizing Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. getting the nod from the Games and Amusements Board (GAB) to stage more tournaments next year following its successful conduct of the twin tournaments under strict health and safety protocols, Alido would be more than ready to go for another crack, in better, stronger form – and this time, coming off a rousing triumph.