Quiban fights back, shoots 69 in Phuket golf tourney

Jan Veran - Philstar.com
Quiban fights back, shoots 69 in Phuket golf tourney
Justin Quiban

MANILA, Philippines – Out of competitive play for quite some time, Justin Quiban shook of the rust and turned in a gutsy three-under 69, four strokes behind American John Catlin, who grabbed the lead at dusk on a solid 65 behind a stirring two-eagle feat at the start of the Blue Canyon Phuket Championship in Phuket, Thailand Thursday.

Quiban submitted his 36-33 card in one of the late flights in a long day in the $1 million championship at the Canyon course marking the restart of the Asian Tour after a 20-month hiatus.

The two-time Philippine Golf Tour champion, who became the first Filipino to hurdle a PGA Tour qualifier in the 3M Open last July, came out of a three-birdie, three-bogey frontside game with two birdies in the first three holes at the back. He gained another stroke on No. 15 before closing out with three pars.

That put him at joint 10th with 11 others, led by Aussies Scott Hend and Wade Ornmsby and Korean Kim Joo Hyung, who honed his talent and skills at Riviera, winning the national amateur stroke play crown in record fashion at Riviera in 2018. Kim also won a leg on the Philippine Golf Tour and became the youngest winner of The Country Club Invitational at 16 the following year.

Catlin spiked his 32-33 card with eagles on par-5 Nos. 9 and 15 while birdying Nos. 4, 6 and 14 to wrest a one-stroke lead over Taiwanese Chan Shih-chang, who also turned in a solid round of 66 on a pair of 33s while Thai Phachara Khongwatmai birdied two of the last three holes at the front to fire a 67 for third.

Earlier, Miguel Tabuena turned in a gutsy one-under 71 while Tony Lascuña birdied his opening hole on No. 10 but floundered with a string of mishits leading to five bogeys against one more birdie for a 75 and a share of 107th.

Tabuena bogeyed Nos. 10 and 12 while trying to get his rhythm and feel his way around the Canyon course then gunned down four birdies in an eight-hole stretch from No. 13 although he failed to cash in on the last two par-5s while stumbling with a bogey on No. 7 for a 35-36.

Still, it was a fine showing for the 27-year-old two-time Philippine Open champion, who posted a low tied at 67th in his last Asian Tour foray in the 2020 Malaysia Open before being kept out of play due to pandemic coupled with the suspension of the Philippine Golf Tour. 

But back back in the region’s premier circuit after falling short of his bid in the Korn Ferry Tour Q-School following a title romp in the Idaho Open two months ago, Tabuena stood at joint 41st in a starting field of 144, six shots off the pace.

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