Miguel Tabuena
Tabuena threatens within one
Dante Navarro (The Philippine Star) - January 18, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Miguel Tabuena sizzled on a late start and birdied No. 17 at dusk, completing a bogey-free six-under 65 and closing in on Thai defending champion Jazz Janewattanond halfway through the Singapore Open at Sentosa’s Serapong course yesterday.

Bucking tough conditions in afternoon play, Tabuena came away with two birdies at the front then sustained his form and momentum with four birdies in the last nine holes, including three straight from No. 10 before closing out with a birdie on the par-3 17th at sundown.

That put the 25-year-old Filipino ace in joint second at 133 with young Korean Kim Joo Hyung, who pressed his own bid with a solid 66, while Olympic gold medalist Justin Rose likewise turned in a five-under card to share fourth place at 134 with American Matt Kuchar, who carded a 68.

Janewattanond overcame a bogey on the second hole with a cluster of birdies, including four in the last seven holes on his way to a 65 and a 132 hours before Tabuena charged home to put himself in strong contention heading to the weekend play of the $1 million event.

Three others pooled 136s, including Rashid Khan of India (66), Japanese Tomoharu Otsuki (67) and Thai Gunn Charoenkul (70), while Angelo Que likewise stepped up his title drive with a 67 for joint 10th with Aussie Travis Smyth, who fired a 68, at 137, five strokes off the joint leaders.

It actually took Janewattanond, who beat former world No. 3 and PGA Tour campaigner Paul Casey and Japanese Yoshinori Fujimoto by two to claim the biggest win of his young career last year, eight holes to get into his rhythm, hitting two birdies to close out his frontside stint.

After missing a couple of birdie chances at the back, he birdied Nos. 12 and 13 then holed out with two more birdies in the last three to put himself on track for a rare back-to-back title feat.

But Tabuena likewise firmed up his bid for a breakthrough in the event where he tied for eighth in 2018 and settled for joint 18th last year, keeping the ball in play off the mound and making the most of his birdie opportunities off solid approach shots.

Que, a former three-time Asian Tour leg winner, parred the last three holes early yesterday to complete a first round 70 then shot a four-under card. He only got going after five pars, including three to wrap up his opening round stint, and a bogey on No. 3 as he gunned down four birdies in the next five.

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