Miguel Tabuena outgunned Elmer Salvador in an early shootout then survived a horrendous windup to post a three-shot victory despite a closing 74, ending a long title drought in the P3.5 million ICTSI Manila Masters at the Eastridge Golf Club in Binangonan, Rizal on Friday.
Not even a quadruple bogey on the par-4 No. 15 where he drove out-of-bounds twice could stymie Tabuena’s quest for a first crown in over a year as he built enough cushion from a gutsy frontside stint to buck a shaky finish and a last-ditch threat from Salvador, who moved within two with three holes left.
“I am really putting extra effort this year. It’s paying off. I believe that hard work will reward with a win,” said the 19-year-old Tabuena after nailing the victory, which came two years after he beat Jay Bayron, also by three, on this mountaintop course.
He wound up with a 10-under 278 and pocketed a whopping P650,000 purse in the eighth leg of the Philippine Golf Tour sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc. It was Tabuena’s fourth pro victory and first since he romped off with an eight-shot win over Edward Reyes at ICTSI Sherwood last year.
“When he [Tabuena] made that 8, I wanted to attack but I also made a bad drive and made a bogey. Sayang,” rued Salvador, who still clinched runner-up honors worth P430,000 at 281 after a four-over 76 despite a bogey on the par-5 18th.
Tony Lascuna rallied with a two-under 70 and finished tied for third at 282 with Benjie Magada, who matched par 72, and two-day leader Cassius Casas, who sputtered with a 75. The troika took home P196,000 each.
Marvin Dumandan also wound up with a 72 and ended up solo sixth at 285 worth P135,000 while Mars Pucay sizzled with a 68 to tie Bayron, who wavered with a 73, at seventh at 286 in the event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. Each received P112,500.
Angelo Que shot a 71 and salvaged a joint ninth finish with Jhonnel Ababa, who made a 75, and Anthony Fernando, who struggled with a 75, at 288 worth P79,500 each.
Tabuena, who surged past a fading Casas and grabbed a one-stroke lead over Salvador with a bogey-free eight-under 64 Thursday, moved two shots up with a birdie on the first hole. But he bogeyed the next and Salvador tied him with a birdie on the third.
Tabuena, however, regained the lead on a two-shot swing on No. 4 on a birdie-bogey exchange then went 3-up with another birdie on the fifth.
Salvador, winner at ICTSI Riviera, fought back with his own birdie on No. 6 but Tabuena pulled away by five on a big three-shot swing on the par-3 No. 8 which he birdied and where Salvador scored a 5 on a missed-green, three-putt miscue.
As they made the turn, Tabuena sat on a five-shot cushion with a 33 as Salvador struggled with a 37. Three shots behind Tabuena at the start of the final round, Casas never really got into contention with a roller-coaster start of two bogeys and two birdies for a 36.
But just when Tabuena thought he had the title under wraps, he made a pair of errant drives on No. 15. But that horrible 8 failed to rattle young shotmaker, who closed out with three pars to foil Salvador, who moved to within two with three holes to go but ended up three shots behind with a closing bogey.