Tabuena snares Aboitiz crown as Que blinks

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Miguel Tabuena edged Angelo Que in a gripping high-noon shootout and captured the Aboitiz Invitational crown with another impeccable display of shotmaking and putting, becoming the first winner of the inaugural PGT Asia Tour at the Manila Southwoods in Carmona, Cavite on Friday.

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Tabuena moved past Que and Indonesian Ian Andrew with a solid 31 start but blew a two-stroke lead as Que ran off a cluster of birdies at the back only to blink with a costly double-bogey on par-3 16th, enabling the 22-year-old Rio Olympics veteran to regain the lead and snare the fiercely-disputed crown on a closing bogey-free 65.

“It’s a great win. My putting was so good today (yesterday),” said Tabuena, who sealed the win with a clutch uphill birdie putt from 10 feet at the par-5 17th to negate Que’s tap-in birdie. “But as I’ve said, it was not going to be easy, especially with Angelo around.”

Miguel Tabuena hoists his first Aboitiz Invitational trophy after nipping Angelo Que in the kickoff leg of the PGT Asia Tour. PHOTO BY BOB DUNGO JR.

Que, one ahead of Tabuena and Andrew after 54 holes, fell behind after nine holes despite a 34 but regained a one-stroke lead with four birdies in a five-hole stretch from No. 10. But he mishit a 7-iron tee-shot while tackling the wind on the 170-yard No. 16 and found the water, failing to save a bogey from eight feet.

That shoved Tabuena, who made a regulation par, back in the lead before matching Que’s closing birdie and par to pocket the crown and the top $17,500 purse on a 23-under 265 total in the annual event sponsored by Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Inc.

Que ended up with a 67 and settled for second at 266 worth $11,500 while Andrew, who actually grabbed the lead with two birdies in the first four holes but slipped back with a bogey on the fifth, took third place with a 271 and received $7,000.

“My caddy (Artemio Murakami) and I decided to use a 7-iron at first. But he changed his mind and would’ve wanted me to use a 6-iron instead. But it was too late,” said Que, who went for broke on the 18th but failed to set up a good birdie opportunity.

The victory was Tabuena’s 13th on the local circuit, including the weather-shortened Philippine Open in late 2015 and the TCC Invitational and the Luisita Championship this year, and his latest feat should fire up the former child prodigy all the more as he shuttles to and from Asia and Europe in search of world ranking points the rest of the season.

It was also a fitting ending to a start of the region’s newest circuit put up by ICTSI and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. which features eight legs, including the second stop at Luisita – the PGTA CAT (Central Azucarera de Tarlac) Open – on Sept. 6-9.

In a brief stretch, Andrew looked headed to spoiling the country’s top guns’ impending mano-a-mano, wresting control after four holes. But he stumbled with a bogey on the next and Tabuena hit three straight birdies from No. 4 and closed out the frontside with back-to-back birdies to move on top.

Two down, Que countered with his own birdie-binge on Nos. 10, 11 and regained the lead with another birdie on No. 13. He held sway by matching Tabuena’s birdie on the par-5 14th only to yield the lead again – for good – with that uncharacteristic double-bogey on the 16th.

Michael Bibat rallied with the day’s best 64 – and one of the tournament’s three eight-under cards, including five straight birdies from No. 13 – to snatch fourth place at 272.

Charles Hong also charged back with 67 to share fifth spot with Elmer Salvador, who fired a 68, at 273 while Korean-American Micah Shin and Thai Wisut Artjanawat finished tied for seventh at 274 after a 67 and 71, respectively.

Tony Lascuña shot a second 68 and wound up solo ninth at 275 while Singapore’s Choo Tze Huang, Ira Alido and Jobim Carlos shared 10th at 276 after a 67, 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.

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