Angelo Que made a scorching start and a blazing finish to card a six-under 66 then watched Miguel Tabuena flub a birdie putt from close range on the 18th to forge a tie and a showdown for the P3.5 million ICTSI Manila Masters crown at the Eastridge Golf Club in Binangonan, Rizal Friday.
Que finally made the most of the preferred lies rule, birdying the first four holes in impressive fashion then holing out with two more birdies for that 66 and a seven-under 209 aggregate and a crack at the first-ever crown in four years for the three-time Asian Tour champion.
A flight behind Que, Tabuena actually looked headed to regaining the lead he lost to Clyde Mondilla in the second round as he headed to the par-5 18th, which he birdied in the first two days. But he misread the putt from around five feet, the ball stopping short of target for a 69.
Tied at 209, Tabuena and Que will thus dispute a Philippine Golf Tour championship for the second straight week after the former outlasted the latter to claim last week’s ICTSI Splendido Classic crown by one.
The duo also clashed in the final flight in last year’s Solaire Open but Tabuena fumbled with a 76 and wound up joint seventh and Que skied to an 82 and ended up joint 21st.
But with Que finally hitting his stride and regaining his confidence, the power-hitting shotmaker is not only looking to snap a long title spell but also a payback against the young but steady Tabuena.
Toru Nakajima, banking on a four-birdie string from No. 2, shot a 68 and will be the third player in the championship flight although the Japanese, who humbled the local aces and won the Wack Wack Championship in 2013, stood three strokes off the pace at 212.
Mondilla, who stormed past Tabuena by one with a solid 68 Thursday, also pooled a four-under overall total after a 73 but will join Woo Seung Bin and Tony Lascuña in the second-to-last flight.
Woo, one of the top Korean qualifiers, charged back into contention with an eagle-aided, bogey-free seven-under 65 for a 213, four shots off the pace, while Lascuna settled for 17 pars and a birdie for a second 71 and a 214 in a tie with Ferdie Aunzo, who hobbled with a 73, in the event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Long-hitting Orlan Sumcad also rallied with a 67 after a 74 and 76 as he moved to joint eighth with Elmer Salvador, who carded a 71, and Korean Lee Seongki, who fired a 70, at 217.
Atoning for his shaky second round stint, Tabuena birdied the first two holes to regain the lead as Mondilla dropped off the leaderboard with an opening hole bogey. Tabuena hit another birdie on No. 6 then gunned another on the ninth to negate a missed-green bogey on No. 7 for a 33.
A flight ahead and four shots behind Mondilla, Que strung up four straight birdies, rammed in another on No. 6 and assumed the challenger’s role with a 31. He bogeyed Nos. 11 and 16 but birdied No. 13 before closing out with back-to-back birdies for that 66.