Tabuena trails by three with 68
Miguel Tabuena
STAR/ File
Tabuena trails by three with 68
Dante Navarro (The Philippine Star) - January 17, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — With an eye at The Open, Miguel Tabuena put up a strong start in the Singapore Open where he keeps a good track record, carding a three-under 68 to crowd the likes of Major champions Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson at joint eighth and trail Japanese Kosuke Hamamoto by just three strokes at Sentosa’s Serapong course yesterday.

The diminutive Filipino ace bucked an early bogey on No. 11 with three birdies in the last four holes to close out his backside start then hit three more birdies against two bogeys in the last nine to join England’s Rose, Stenson from Sweden, Aussie Wonjoon Lee, Chiragh Kumar of India and Thai Gunn Charoenkul at provisional eighth place with some groups from among the 156-player field still on the fairway at presstime.

Hamamoto struggled off the mound but made up with superb iron shots and putting, finishing with 27 to preserve a bogey-free 33-33 card at the long par-71 layout for a one-shot lead over Canadian Richard Lee, who fired a 66, and two ahead of Koreans Kim Joo Hyung and Inhoi Hur, and defending champion Jazz Janewattananond of Thailand, who turned in identical 67s.

American Matt Kuchar could grab the lead at the end of the long day as the 10-time PGA Tour winner fired an eagle-spiked four-under card after nine holes in his maiden appearance in the blue-ribbon event.

Tabuena said he could’ve shot better, ruing his three-putt miscue on No. 3 and a missed green bogey on the par-3 eighth but stressed he was satisfied with his start that put him in the early mix in the $1 million event serving as the second leg of this year’s Asian Tour and co-sanctioned by the Japan PGA Tour and the European Tour.

He added that he liked his chances of finally making it to the Open this year.

“I missed qualifying for The Open by one shot for two years in row. So hopefully, it goes my way this time,” said the two-time Philippine Open champion, referring to one of the world’s four golfing Majors.

The top four players will earn automatic slots to the world’s oldest Major slated July 16-19 at Royal St. George’s Golf Course in Sandwich, England.

After stumbling with an early bogey on No. 11, Tabuena rescued a par on the next then birdied Nos. 15, 17 and 18. After another saved par on the first hole, he three-putted the third but birdied the next before closing out with a birdie-par-bogey-birdie run for a 35-33.

“I’m pretty disappointed with two of my three bogeys. I was right in in front of the wind and I just hit horribly. But it’s okay,” said Tabuena.

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