JAY Bayron finally ended a string of runner-up finishes this year, outgunning Dutch Guido Van der Valk then holding off a charging Juvic Pagunsan to annex the first Aboitiz Cebu Country Club Invitational crown with a closing two-under 70 to win by two yesterday.

The 31-year-old Bayron, tied with Van der Valk at the start of the final round, bucked a double-bogey mishap on No. 3 with birdies on Nos. 7 and 9 to seize control. He then played it steady at the back to complete a pair of 35s over a course that proved tougher than what the field thought it to be.

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“Finally, I won again. It’s been a long search for another victory,” said Bayron, who had three runner-up finishes in the Mercedes Benz Tour this season and finished second to Marvin Dumandan at the ICTSI-Sherwood Classic early this year, in Filipino.

Counting his earlier 66 and 69, Bayron completed his wire-to-wire triumph with a 205 aggregate worth P200,000, scoring his second victory in the revival of the pro circuit after topping the ICTSI Valley leg last year.

Pagunsan, one of the early favorites to win this 10th leg of the ICTSI-Philippine Golf Tour, ran out of holes in his bid for a third leg victory after topping the ICTSI-Riviera and ICTSI-Apo stages. He shot one of the day’s only two 69s and snatched second place at 207. He took home P120,000 in a big rebound after he, along with Elmer Salvador and Richard Sinfuego, were disqualified on a final hole infraction at the ICTSI-Del Monte leg ruled by Cassius Casas last month.

Van der Valk, bidding to become the first foreign player to win in the local circuit, took the lead with a par on No. 3.

But like in his final round loss to Salvador in last year’s Philippine Open and to Artemio Murakami in the Asian Tour Qualifying in Thailand, the Dutchman cracked under pressure and tumbled to eighth place.

He stumbled with a 37 at the front, double-bogeyed the 14th and bogeyed the last two holes for a 77, finishing with a 212.

Dumandan made a strong finish after withdrawing at Apo and skipping the Del Monte leg of the circuit, grabbing third place with a 208 after a 70.

Jun Bernis, the former national champion, also turned in his best finish so far, a fourth place effort at 209 after a 71 while Angelo Que, fresh from his triumph at Selangor Masters in Malaysia, settled for joint fifth with Frankie Miñoza and Murakami. (PR)