Miguel Tabuena went on another hot start but this time ended up with a cold finish, settling for a two-under 70 but keeping a six-shot lead intact over Jay Bayron halfway through the P3.5 million ICTSI Anvaya Cove Invitational in Morong, Bataan on Thursday.
Five birdies in the first six holes at the back hinted at the coming of another scorching round for the 21-year-old hotshot who reset the Anvaya Cove Golf and Sports Club course record to 62 Wednesday. But he reeled back with a double-bogey on No. 17 on an errant drive then fumbled with two more bogeys against a birdie at the front to finish with a 37-33.
But with the rest failing to mount a serious challenge, the reigning Philippine Open champion remained safely ahead at 12-under 132 as Bayron, who also bogeyed the tough par-5 ninth, could only match Tabuena’s two-under card, a 35-35 for a 138.
“I don’t think we can catch up. Miguel’s playing on a different level,” said Bayron.
But Tabuena remains wary of his rivals and his chances for the top P650,000 purse in the 72-hole championship sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc., saying it’s still a long way to go and anything can happen on a tough, windy course that continued to bedevil the games of the rest of the field.
“It’s still not finished, there are still two more days,” said Tabuena, eyeing a 20-under overall finish. “But same strategy – risk and reward. If I can pull it off, why not?”
Toru Nakajima, the Japanese topnotcher of the recent ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour Q-School, missed posting the best score in another hot, blustery day with a late bogey, his 69 putting him alongside Tony Lascuna, who also gained some ground with a three-under card, at 140, still eight shots behind.
Park Min Ung, the young Korean who won the Philippine junior crown in 2012, rebounded from a 73 with a 69 to move up to fifth at 142 while Charles Hong, Clyde Mondilla and Dutch Guido Van Der Valk matched par 72s to remain tied at 143.
Angelo Que, who rallied from six strokes down with a final round 64 and beat Lascuna by three here last year, appeared headed for missing the cut after a disastrous opening 76 and a triple bogey-marred 41 yesterday. But the former three-time Asian Tour winner recovered a bit with a closing 34 and finished with a 75 for a seven-over 151, barely making it to the final 36 holes of the kickoff leg of this year’s circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. and backed by Adidas, TaylorMade, Pacsports Phils., Custom Clubmakers, KZG, Sharp and Anvaya Cove Golf and Sports Club.
The cut was at 152 with pro-am winner Mhark Fernando (76), Korean Park Jun Hyeok (73), Lyu Hyung Suk of Korea (74) Zanieboy Gialon (76), Arnold Villacencio (76), Aussie Nathan Park (77), Rico Depilo (77) and American Christopher Oetinger (80) all advancing.
Omar Dungca carded a 70 to tie James Ryan Lam (72) and Mars Pucay (73) at 144; Randy Garalde and Ramil Bisera matched par 72 for joint 12th with John Abdon, who groped for a 74, at 145, while John Jackson of the US and Korea Seok Jun Min pooled a 146 after a 74 and 76, respectively.
Hard-pressed to at least come close to matching his career-best round, Tabuena opened with a tap-in birdie on the 10th then buried birdie putts inside 12 feet in the next two holes. He drilled in another 10 footer on the 14th then went five-under with another gimme on No. 15.
But he hit a wayward drive on the par-4 No. 17, failed to recover and dropped two strokes then preserved a three-under card by canning in another tap-in birdie on No. 3 to negate his bogey on the second hole.
Bayron fell by eight at the turn but gunned down three birdies against two bogeys at the front for a pair of 35s, missing chopping a stroke off Tabuena’s lead when he missed the ninth green and flubbed a seven-footer for par.