SOLAIRE OPEN: Que outsteadies Tabuena, seizes 1-shot lead
CANLUBANG – Angelo Que outdueled Miguel Tabuena to wrest the solo lead, but missed gaining a two-shot cushion with a final hole bogey, settling for a two-under 69 and enabling his young rival to stay in the hunt along with a charging Korean Wang Jeung-hun in the third round of the Solaire Open at the wind-raked The Country Club here Saturday.
Que, tied with Tabuena halfway through the $300,000 event, whisked off the 18-year-old ace shotmaker with a birdie on No. 8 and moved up two-up after Tabuena bogeyed the 16th. But the three-time Asian Tour winner flubbed a 10-foot putt for par on the 18th, setting the stage for a battle royale for the top $54,000 purse in this second leg of the Asian Tour.
With a 204 aggregate, Que moved 18 holes away from snapping a four-year Asian Tour spell but Tabuena poised himself for a breakthrough victory despite a 70 for a 205 after a 70 and Wang made it a three-way fight with a 206 after a three-under 68.
“Hopefully, I can finish it off. This is going to be a challenging round. It has been windy but I’ve been playing solid,” said Que, who last won on the region’s premier circuit in the Selangor Masters in Malaysia in 2010. “I want to keep my game up and finally close the deal again after four years.”
But Tabuena remains in hot pursuit for a first Asian Tour win, together with Wang, who birdied three of the first six holes and finished bogey-free to put himself in title contention again after finishing fourth in last year’s inaugural staging of the event sponsored by Solaire Resort and Casino and backed by DMCI Homes, BDO, PLDT and Meralco.
S.S.P. Chowrasia of India, who started round three at third position, was blown off course when he returned with a 77 to share 23rd place at 213.
Despite seizing the solo lead, Que remains wary of the talented Tabuena.
“We’ve played together on so many occasions. I just want to have fun out there with him (Tabuena) again. He never gives up. He just keeps on coming. He reminds me of myself when I was young,” said Que, who traded four birdies against two bogeys.
With the finishing line in sight, the bubbly Filipino hopes to win the Solaire Open trophy in front of his pregnant wife, Tracy, and younger daughter, who were cheering for him on the 18th green today.
Like Que, Tabuena braced himself for a challenging final day against a player who he looks up to.
“I’ve been waiting for the moment to win my first Asian Tour title since I turned professional. Hopefully it happens. I look up to Angelo. He is a good friend and very supportive on and off the course. He is a down to earth guy and hopefully I can be as successful as him in the future,” said Tabuena.
Playing in his second year on the Asian Tour, Korea’s Wang charged up the leader board with a flawless round highlighted by a 15-feet birdie on six. Dressed in striking pink pants, Wang, who finished 76th on the Order of Merit last season, believes he has the ‘A Game’ to cause an upset today.
“I learnt a lot when I played on the Asian Tour last year. I played very badly in 2013 because I was so nervous. This year, I feel more relaxed and I just want to play my best golf. I really want to win this tournament,” said the 18-year-old Wang.
Bukidnon’s Clyde Mondilla fired one of the day’s two best scores of 67 to join three others at fourth place although they stood four shots behind Que at 208. Other five-under scorers were Japan’s Akinori Tani, who shot the other 67, Thai Chawalit Plaphol, who carded a 68 and Canadian Richard Lee, who shot a 70.
Five players pooled a 210, including American Sam Cyr (69), David Lipsky, also of the US, (71), Simon Griffiths of England (71), Carlos Pigem of Spain (71), and Aussie Matthew Griffin (73).
Zanie Boy Gialon stood as the next best Filipino at 212 after a 74, followed by Tony Lascuña (70-213), Jay Bayron (69-214), Carl Santos-Ocampo (75-215), Elmer Salvador (75-216) and Frankie Miñoza (74-217).
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