Zanieboy Gialon ends five-year title drought with win in ICTSI Caliraya Springs Championship

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ZANIEBOY Gialon ended a long five-year title drought as he fired in a final round score of 71 to emerge victorious in the ICTSI Caliraya Springs Championship on Friday in Cavinti, Laguna.

Gialon bucked a one-over card with back-to-back birdies from No. 15, regaining complete control after Clyde Mondilla pulled to within one in a flight ahead on a solid six-birdie feat after 15 holes. But the Del Monte ace blew another birdie chance on the par-5 16th and holed out with a bogey in a frantic search to finish with a flourish, ending up instead with a 67 for a 279.

That was four strokes behind Gialon, who played pressure-free coming home, sealing the huge victory, his first since posting a six-shot romp over Jhonnel Ababa at ICTSI Calatagan in 2017, with closing pars for a 13-under 275.

“I couldn’t get my game going at the front but got my confidence back after I birdied the 16th,” said Gialon, who pocketed the top purse of P360,000 after recording his fifth career victory.

Gialon, who finished seventh at ICTSI Luisita Championship last month, stumbled with two bogeys against a birdie after nine holes, enabling halfway co-leader Joenard Rates to close the gap with a big bounce-back from a bogey on No. 3 with three birdies in the next four holes.

But as Gialon recovered and produced decisive birdies on Nos. 15 and 16 in a windy windup, Rates cooled down and bowed out of the title chase with two bogeys against a birdie in a four-hole stretch from No. 12 and never threatened with closing pars.

Mondilla, in contrast, put up another fiery comeback reminiscent of his exploits at Luisita where he battled back from five shots down to force a playoff with eventual winner Miguel Tabuena.

But Gialon’s eight-stroke lead after 54 holes proved too big a deficit for Mondilla to overhaul, his bid to produce a tournament-best round at the Caliraya Springs Golf Club fizzling out, along with his bid for another crack at a Philippine Golf Tour crown. He took the runner-up purse of P236,000 for the second straight time. (JNP)

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