GEN. TRIAS, Cavite – Jhonnel Ababa broke a long title spell with a record seven-stroke victory at the ICTSI Eagle Ridge Invitational yesterday, recovering with flourish from each bogey mishap to dominate Elmer Salvador with a closing three-under 69 at the Aoki course here.
Ababa fought back from a bogey start with a three-birdie string from No. 3, recovered from another missed green miscue on No. 6 with birdies on Nos. 11 and 12 then birdied No. 14 after another bogey, finishing the last four holes unchallenged as Salvador settled for a run of pars from No. 3 and closed out the last seven holes with two bogeys.
Ababa, 33, wound up with a 10-under 278 aggregate, emerging the lone player to churn out a run of under par cards in all four days at the wind-raked layout (68, 71, 70) and beating Salvador, who fumbled with a 74 and a 285, by seven for the most lopsided win thus far in the Philippine Golf Tour Asia put up by ICTSI.
“It’s been a long while and I’m very happy to finally score a victory again,” Ababa, who banked $17,500 for his first win since he triumphed in Sabah, Malaysia in 2014.
“I just played superb all week,” added Ababa, who produced 20 birdies against 10 bogeys in exacting condition in the four-day $100,000 championship, which served as the sixth leg of the region’s newest circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
“The tournament was his (Ababa) for the taking. But I hope to rebound in the next event,” said Salvador, who took home the $11,500 runner-up prize.
Ababa also extended the locals’ domination of the PGT Asia after Miguel Tabuena topped the kickoff leg in Aboitiz Invitational by one over Angelo Que. Rene Menor bested Thai Pasavee Lertvilai in a record five-hole playoff in the second leg at Splendido; Clyde Mondilla edged Michael Bibat and amateur Tom Kim by two at Riviera; Tony Lascuña outduelled American Nicolas Paez and won by two at Wack Wack and young Justin Quiban nailed a breakthrough at Luisita with a three-stroke triumph over Joenard Rates in the CAT Open.
Rates, meanwhile, struggled with a 74 but still grabbed third place at 287 worth $7,000, to complete a 1-2-3 finish by the Davao bets while veteran Frankie Miñoza carded a 73 and tied Lascuña, who turned in a 74, and Charles Hong and Keanu Jahns, who shot identical 75s, for fourth with 292s.
Lertvilai birdied two of the last three holes to save a 73 for joint eighth at 293 with Indonesian Jordan Irawan, who also made a 73, compatriot Tommy Mansuwan, who groped for a second stripe 75, and Quiban, who hardly recovered from a disastrous third round 77 with a 75 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.