Young gun Miguel Tabuena upstaged veterans Tony Lascuña and Cassius Casas with a scorching backside birdie-binge, firing a second straight six-under 66 and grabbing a one-stroke lead in a thrilling third round shootout in the P3.5 million ICTSI Pilipinas Invitational at Manila Southwoods’ Legends Course in Cavite.
Tied with Casas and one shot behind Lascuña at the start of the round, Tabuena fumbled with an early bogey and fell by as many as four as Lascuña sizzled with a 32 at the front. But the 19-year-old shotmaker stunned his fancied rivals with a mind-boggling five-birdie splurge from No. 13 for a 31 and a 66 that thrust him into the lead of a stellar field at 15-under 201.
Impressive at the front, Lascuña turned mediocre in the last nine holes where he settled for pars for a 68 but still stayed in the hunt for a third straight victory here at Southwoods and on the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour with a 202.
Casas missed joining Lascuña at second with a missed-green bogey on the 18th, but his second 68 in the three days put him in the thick of the fight for the top P650,000 purse with a 203, guaranteeing a gripping finale in the 72-hole championship serving as the 12th leg of the 16-stage circuit sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc.
“I didn’t let my early bogey bother me,” said Tabuena, referring to his mishap on No. 5 where he failed to rescue a par from the bunker. He did bounce back with birdies on the two par-5s on Nos. 6 and 8 but it was not until he strung up five birdies in row that he found out he’s on top of the heap.
Behind solid driving and superb iron game, Tabuena, seeking to clinch the second of four P3.5 million titles after beating Elmer Salvador at ICTSI Manila Masters at Eastrdige last June, buried four birdies inside five feet and highlighted his blistering finish with a 20-footer on No. 16.