Clutch birdie helps Tabuena save Palos crown
DAVAO – Miguel Tabuena survived a backside meltdown with a clutch birdie on No. 16, edging Elmer Salvador by one for the ICTSI Rancho Palos Verdes Classic crown that nearly slipped his grip with a triple-bogey mishap on the 13th of the Rancho Palos Verdes here Saturday.
Tabuena blew a five-shot lead with nine holes left with that wind-blown seven as Salvador birdied the par-5 15th to force a tie at 22-under. But the 21-year-old Tabuena steeled himself up in the closing holes, coming through with a solid approach shot on the 16th to set up a birdie from close range then watched his rival muff his birdie try from the fringe to regain a one-shot lead he preserved with gutsy pars in the last two holes.
Despite his closing 37, Tabuena completed a run of under par rounds at the rolling layout with a 69 for a 23-under 265 worth P270,000 in the eighth leg of the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour.
Salvador failed to hit any birdie in the last two holes and finished with a 67 for a 266 and missed fashioning out a back-to-back title romp after dominating the ICTSI Riviera Classic last week.
Not only did Tabuena nail his second victory this year after ruling the kickoff leg of the circuit sponsored by ICTSI at Splendido but the young gun, who also posted three runner-up finishes, also get past absentee Angelo Que in the Order of Merit ranking with earnings P1.610 million.
Que, currently campaigning in Japan, has winnings of P1.572 on two victories at ICTSI Manila Masters and ICTSI Anvaya Cove Invitational.
Salvador took the P185,000 runner-up prize while Clyde Mondilla shot a 68 and ended up way behind at third at 273 worth P105,000 and Tony Lascuna extended his winless campaign with a fourth place finish 274 after a 69 and took home P85,000.
Orlan Sumcad birdied two of the last four holes to fire a 68 for joint fifth with erstwhile leader Michael Bibat, who hardly recovered from a disastrous third round 75 with a 72 for 278 in the event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Zanieboy Gialon took solo third in the early going with four birdies in the first six holes but the ICTSI Royal Northwoods winner wound up seventh at 279 despite a 67 while Ferdie Aunzo ended up eighth at 280 after a 72 and Anthony Fernando and Artemio Murakami took the next two places with 281 and 282 after a 71 and 70, respectively.
Just when he thought he had the title under wraps after pulling away by five heading to the backside, which he tamed with nine birdies against just one bogey in four days, Tabuena found the going tough when he hit an errant approach shot into a hazard while battling the wind on the par-4 No. 13. He overshot the green on his fourth shot and flubbed a double-bogey putt from pin-length high for that 7.
With Salvador birdying the par-5 15th for the fourth straight day, the duo found themselves tied at 22-under, setting the stage for either a big foldup or plucky rebound for the young gun or a huge comeback from the veteran shotmaker.
Tabuena proved he’s more than up to the task.
“Just got lucky in the end,” said Tabuena, adding that he was bothered by the wind on No. 13 while trying to choose between a pitching wedge or a 9-iron for an approach shot. He picked the wedge but mishit it.
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