CAT Open on; Tabuena to boost OOM bid

(The Philippine Star) - September 15, 2015 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Miguel Tabuena tries to close in on a first Order of Merit title with a strong finish in the inaugural Central Azucarera de Tarlac Open which gets going beginning today featuring a stellar cast at the Luisita Golf and Country Club in Tarlac.

Tabuena grabbed the lead in the money race with a stirring come-from-behind victory at the ICTSI Open Championship last week where he battled from four strokes down to beat the very player he dislodged on top of the OOM heap –Tony Lascuña.

He said he didn’t expect to win at Wack Wack with a 74 start and a third round 73, much more upend a top caliber player in Lascuña and at one of the country’s toughest courses at Wack Wack’s East.

But the 21-year-old shotmaker proved his worth, humbling his veteran rivals, who included Angelo Que and Cassius Casas, with a superb display of shotmaking and putting and a big fighting heart to clinch the win, making him the winningest player this year with three victories.

But more importantly, the victory shoved Tabuena, who also won at ICTSI Splendido and Palos Verdes, past Lascuña to wrest the OOM lead with two legs left in the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour.

That includes this week’s P2.5 million event, sponsored by Central Azucarera de Tarlac, where a top three finish will virtually seal his bid for the first OOM crown.

“I think I have an 80 percent chance to win here (Luisita),” said Tabuena during a break in yesterday’s pro-am, which he later ruled with partners Martin Lorenzo, Eric Tensuan and Aian Arcilla with a 16-under 56 aggregate. “But I need my putting to click to win again.”

Tabuena finished tied for 11th when Luisita marked its return to big-time hosting last May where Charles Hong bested an elite international field to score a wire-to-wire victory, beating Lascuña, Orlan Sumcad and Marvin Dumandan by two.

“I’m confident of my chances to score a repeat here based on how I played last May,” said Hong, who opened with a 66 before stringing 68, 69 and 70 rounds to annex his second career victory. “I’m in top shape and has been aiming for top results in the last three tournaments.”

Focus will also be on Lascuña, hard-pressed to bounce back from a career-worst final round 79 at Wack Wack.

“I’ve been playing great golf lately except for that final round foldup at Wack Wack but I’m upbeat of my chances here but I need to polish my putting stroke to contend again,” said Lascuña.

Tabuena drew Lascuña and Hong in the featured threesome kicking off the event backed by Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Callaway, Srixon, Mizuno, TaylorMade, Nike Golf, Sharp, Custom Clubmakers, Titleist, Rudy Project, Pacsports, Omnisource, Cleveland Golf, KZG, FootJoy, Silicon, Empire and Great Depot.

Others tipped to contend for the top P450,000 purse in the event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc., are pro-am runner-up Paul Echavez, who with teammates Jim Melo, Jobim Carlos and Alex Ong, pooled a 57, nipping Ferdie Aunzo and partners Edison Yap, Tess Yap and Aaron Chua in the countback, Jay Bayron, Elmer Salvador, Clyde Mondilla, Mars Pucay, Anthony Fernando, Jun Bernis, Tonlits Asistio and the comebacking Frankie Miñoza.

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