In-form Miguel Tabuena made good his vow, making a fast, impressive start in the rich ICTSI Anvaya Cove Invitational he said he had wanted to win – his career-best, course record-breaking 10-under 62 netting him a huge six-stroke lead over Jay Bayron at the Anvaya Cove Golf and Sports Club in Morong, Bataan on Wednesday.
The 21-year-old phenom quickly underscored his readiness to claim the crown in the P3.5 million kick-off leg of this year’s ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour by birdying the first four holes from close range while majority of the starting 98-player field struggled to even set up birdie chances.
He muffed an eagle putt from 12 feet on the par-5 10th, reached the drivable par-4 11th in one and missed another eagle bid from just about a club length but finally hit one on the last par-5, No. 15, off a 3-wood second shot from 260 yards that rested 15 feet off the cup. He then birdied the par-3 16th to complete a pair of 31s on a sunny but windy day at the seaside layout.
“It was really a fantastic game, the best round in my career. Everything’s in place,” said Tabuena.
Tabuena did fumble with a bogey on the par-5 ninth but the miscue hardly diminished the impact of his brilliant round that wiped out the 64 posted by Angelo Que in the final round to rally from six and beat Tony Lascuna by three in this event. last year.
Despite Tabuena’s hot start, the reigning Philippine Open champion couldn’t go no farther than two-up as flightmate Bayron turned in his own version of 33 after nine holes and tried to give chase with a birdie on No. 15 and move within two again.
But Tabuena answered with an eagle and restored a four-stroke lead then birdied the next to drive a wedge between him and his nearest pursuer – Bayron, who missed moving a shot closer with a final hole bogey and signed for a 68.
American qualifier John Jackson carded a 70 to take solo third as the other fancied local bets struggled, including Tony Lascuna who had a 71 for joint fourth with John Kier Abdon, Charles Hong, Clyde Mondilla, Mars Pucay, Dutch Guiod Van der Valk and top qualifier Toru Nakajima of Japan.
Lascuna, the third player in the featured flight, praised Tabuena’s near-flawless game, saying “He just a played a solid all-around game.”
Que opened with a birdie on No. 10 but never recovered from two double bogeys on Nos. 15 and 17, limping with a four-over 76 for joint 34th and in danger of missing the cut on the very tournament he ruled in stirring come-from-behind fashion.
The former three-time Asian Tour winner arrived early Wednesday in time for the event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc., backed by Adidas, TaylorMade, Pacsports Phils., Custom Clubmakers, KZG, Sharp and Anvaya Cove Golf and Sports Club.
Chris Oetinger of the US birdied two of the last three holes to save an even par 72 and tie Korean Seok Jun Min, James Ryan Lam, American Dylan Jackson and former Philippine Open champion Gerald Rosales while Frankie Minoza rattled off four birdies but stumbled with three bogeys and a double bogey for a 73 for joint 16th with Randy Garalde, Ramil Bisera, Al Cruz and young Korean Park Min Ung.