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Salvador stuns Jahns in ICTSI The Country Club Match Play opener

SANTA ROSA, Laguna – Elmer Salvador pounced on Keanu Jahns’ costly mishit on No. 8 and went on to essay a big 4&3 triumph as the ICTSI The Country Club Match Play Invitational unfolded with a blend of unexpected turns and seasoned triumphs here Tuesday.

Top seed Jhonnel Ababa, defending champion Tony Lascuña, Miguel Tabuena, Justin Quiban, Angelo Que, Rupert Zaragosa, Ira Alido and Guido van der Valk all sailed through with convincing victories while a couple of matches went past 18 holes to highlight the start of the head-to-head clashes in the P2 million championship at the TCC course.

But Salvador took the spotlight in fair conditions at one of the country’s toughest courses, seizing the opportunity when Jahns faltered on No. 8, turning what seemed like an impending defeat into a surprising triumph.

“Hindi ko din alam kung pano ako nanalo (I don’t even know how I won),” said the reticent former OOM winner, underscoring the unpredictable nature of his comeback.

One hole down after seven holes, Salvador appeared resigned after Jahns almost reached the par-5 No. 8 in two. But the Fil-German uncharacteristically fouled up on his third shot and ended up with a par while Salvador stuffed his approach shot from 100 yards to within six feet and made the putt to draw level.

The veteran Davaoeño campaigner then won four of the next seven holes as Jahns failed to recover his rhythm as the former advanced against Del Monte’s Reymon Jaraula, who edged Gerald Rosales, 1-up.

Ababa, whose victories at Villamor-Philippine Masters and at South Pacific propelled him to his first PGT Order of Merit crown, trampled Ferdie Aunzo, 3&2; while Lascuna, who dominated Jahns’ 4&3, to rule the inaugural staging of the event that took over from the North and South Duel at Villamor last year, dominated Gab Manotoc, 5&4.

Tabuena, on the other hand, put away fellow Asian Tour campaigner Lloyd Go, 3&2, with the two-time Philippine Open champion and No. 2 in this year’s Asian Tour Order of Merit facing Zaragosa in an interesting matchup in Round 2 of the knockout duels organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments Inc.
Quiban, who wore down Marvin Dumandan on the fourth playoff hole to claim the