Allâs well that ends well for Miguel Tabuena

Miguel Tabuena Jun Mendoza

All’s well that ends well for Miguel Tabuena

(The Philippine Star) - March 4, 2018 - 12:00am

STA. ROSA, Laguna, Philippines — It had taken him a longer route but Miguel Tabuena got to his intended destination just the same.

Riled by a two-stroke penalty in the third round that nearly proved costly in the end, Tabuena vented his ire by turning in a hot closing performance capped by a dramatic victory in sudden death over Thai Prom Meesawat to rule the Solaire Philippine Open yesterday at the wind-raked The Country Club.

Tabuena closed out with a one-under 71 to catch Meesawat (72) at one-over 289 after 72 holes then sustained the charge in the first playoff hole, also on the treacherous par-4, 476-yard No. 18, carding an even par as his veteran rival succumbed to an errant drive and bunker shots.

“Kulang pala yung two stroke penalty ko, no? (As if my two-stroke penalty wasn’t enough),” Tabuena said in jest.

He was referring to the previous round, where he actually wrested the lead from Meesawat before getting penalized by two strokes for rule infraction on No. 11. This enabled the 33-year-old Thai to regain a one-stroke lead.

Minus the penalty, Tabuena wouldn’t have to play catch up in Round 4 and eventually grind it out in extra hole.

“I’ve never been more mad going to the last round. It would have been different without the two stroke penalty, di ba (wouldn’t it)?, But that’s finished and I’m happy to be on top,” said Tabuena, who netted $108,000 for his latest feat.

The Rio Olympics veteran captured his second crown in Asia’s oldest golf open after previously ruling the rain-shortened 2015 staging in Tarlac and earned the distinction of being the Centennial champion of Asia’s oldest National Open presented by Solaire Resort and Casino and co-sanctioned by OneAsia and the National Golf Association of the Philippines.

“I’m really happy to put my name not only once but twice on this trophy, especially being the Open’s 100th tournament,” he said. “It gives me good confidence for next week in India, a European tour event, I’m happy with my game and I thank God,” he said.

Tabuena, who drew level on Meesawat with a birdie on No. 12, grabbed the upperhand in the playoff by barely hitting his approach shot into the green, 30 feet off the hole. In contrast, the Thai found himself in a tight fix after driving into the bunker near the big lake and dumping his second shot into the greenside bunker. He failed to get out in three off a bad lie and having made it in four – with Tabuena poised for a tap-in par, he conceded the hole, the match and the championship and went over to Tabuena to shake hands.

“Props to Prom, he played his heart out and it was really good fight, it was good for us and good for the fans,” said Tabuena.

Dutch Guido Van der Valk took third place honors after closing out with a 74 for 293 overall while Michael Choi (73 for 295) placed fourth followed by 2017 titlist Stepen Lewton (72 for 296) and Nicolas Paez (75 for 296) at joint fifth.

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