LAUREL, Batangas – Far from reaching peak form, Miguel Tabuena still flourished and got to the top with a scorching finish, birdying the last three holes to shoot a six-under 66 and get past Clyde Mondilla at the start of the ICTSI Splendido Taal Championship here on Tuesday, May 24.
Mondilla, in an earlier flight, took command majority of the way with a seven-under card after 14 holes before settling for a 67 on a couple of late mishaps at Splendido Taal Golf Club as the field played preferred lies due to wet course following days of rain.
Tabuena, who beat Mondilla on the second playoff hole to claim the ICTSI Luisita crown last March, also made a run of four birdies in a five-hole stretch from No. 7 but reeled back with a wet bogey on the 13th before closing out with a blistering run of birdies for a 34-32 that put him on a very familiar place.
“I didn’t really hit my best. I got to a very slow start and didn’t birdie the early holes. But I got it going on No. 8 and was able to make some grounds (after the bogey) by birdying the last three holes,” said the two-time Philippine Open champion Tabuena, also a two-time winner here at Splendido.
Mondilla, who marked his runner-up finishes at Luisita and Caliraya with final round rallies, had set his title drive in motion in the P2 million event with a fiery start but lost his momentum at the finish, bogeying Nos. 15 and 18 for a 33-34.
“I had a solid frontside, hit all the fairways and even missed three birdie chances inside five feet. But I lost my feel and momentum in the last four holes” rued the 2019 Philippine Open champion at The Country Club, who overshot the par-4 15th and failed to return a long par-putt then came up short of the closing hole, another par-4, and missed a six-footer for par.
A slew of fancied bets kept the duo within sight, including Dutch Guido Van der Valk, who bucked an opening-hole bogey with five birdies in the next 14 on his way to a 68.
In women’s play at Mount Malarayat, Chanelle Avaricio looked to make another title run on the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour, firing a solid two-under 70 and wresting a one-shot lead over Sunshine Baraquiel and amateur Mafy Singson.
Putting premium on driving and ball control on the softened Splendido Taal Golf Club layout, the Hallow Ridge and Caliraya legs winner snapped a par-game with a birdie on No. 7 then hit two solid shots on the closing par-4 hole and drilled in a six-footer to complete a pair of 35s.
That proved to be the best as Baraquiel struggled on the unpredictable surface after hitting all greens and Singson went on a roller-coaster ride after an eagle on the par-5 second.