Angelo Que birdied the 18th then watched Indonesian Ian Andrew muff a three-footer for par for a crucial two-shot swing that thrust the Filipino ace back to the lead with a 66 in the windy third round of the Aboitiz Invitational at the Manila Southwoods’ Legends course in Carmona, Cavite on Thursday.
Sliding to third from joint lead with a second round 69, Que moved back on top with a stirring frontside six-under 30 then checked his shaky start at the back with birdies on Nos. 14 and 18 to preserve a six-under card for a 54-hole total of 199 and a one-stroke lead over Andrew and Miguel Tabuena.
Andrew, two down behind Tabuena halfway through, kept his amazing bogey-free run with a frontside 32 to grab the lead. Though he stumbled with his first bogey on No. 12, he struck back with another birdie the par-5 17th and headed to the par-4 closing hole ahead of the two local aces.
But Andrew mishit his final drive deep into the fairway bunker, struggled to reach the green in three then cracked under pressure after Que rolled in a tough uphill putt from 10 feet for birdie.
“I thought I stroked it well,” rued Andrew of his final putt from short range that enabled Que to wrest back the lead heading to the final 18 holes of the the $100,000 championship serving as the kickoff leg of the new PGT Asia Tour put up by ICTSI.
Andrew settled for a 69 and dropped to joint second at 200 with Tabuena, who took charge with a flawless 64 Wednesday and held sway in the early going of the third but struggled at the back and wound up with a 71.
Despite his solid start, Que said it wasn’t easy as he had to battle through strong wind, buck tough pin placements and lean on his steady putting to produce that six-under card.
“I am quite satisfied with my game. A good putting touch served me well in the outward nine,” said Que, who moved 18 holes away from becoming the first winner of the region’s newest pro circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. “I got into a bit of a bump in two of the first three holes at the back side, but I was able to recover and made the birdie in the end.”
“My target is to shoot at least five-under,” said Que, who is coming off a record 12-shot victory in the ICTSI Classic at Mt. Malarayat last month.
In a moving day, a slew of players pressed their bids with early run of birdies but all either lost steam or slowed down at the finish, practically leaving Que, Tabuena and Andrew to dispute the top $17,500 purse in what had been billed before the start of the championship – a shootout.
Thai Wisut Artjanawat, many-time winner in the other regional tours, actually bettered Que’s opening 30 with a 29 then added two more birdies on Nos. 10 and 13 only to bogey to the par-5 14th. He settled for pars in the last four holes and wound up with a 64.
From 10 shots behind Tabuena after 36 holes of the $100,000 championship serving as the kickoff leg of the new PGT Asia Tour, Artjanawat grabbed solo fourth but stood four strokes behind Que at 203.
Elmer Salvador, tied with Artjanawat at the start of the round, also scorched the frontside with a 30, birdied Nos. 11 and 14 but hobbled with bogeys on Nos. 16 and 18. The reticent Davaoñeo shotmaker ended up with a 66 and moved to solo fifth at 205, six shots off the pace.
Jobim Carlos fired a 68 to tie Charles Hong, who carded a 70, at 206, while Tony Lascuña also made his move with a 32 start but struggled at the back with a 36 for a 68.
The reigning PGT Order of Merit winner and current leader pooled a 207 for joint eight with Ira Alido and Micah Shin, who turned in 69 and 70, respectively, in the event backed by Custom Clubmakers, Meralco, Champion, Summit Mineral Water, K&G Golf Apparel, BDO, Sharp, KZG, PLDT and M.Y. Shokai Technology, Inc.