Tabuena 2 shots off in Korea Open

Jan Veran - Philstar.com
Tabuena 2 shots off in Korea Open
Miguel Tabuena

MANILA, Philippines -- Miguel Tabuena missed taking command, or at least sharing the first-round honors in a premier Asian Tour which stakes berths in the oldest golfing major, with a late mishap, his one-under 71 dropping him to joint 11th in the Korea Open in Cheonan in South Chungcheon Thursday.

Local bet Junghwan Lee dominated the par-71 Woo Jeong Hills Country Club layout with a bogey-free 68 to tie American Seungsu Han and compatriot Jaemin Hwang in the lead. He was one stroke ahead of Thai Nitithorn Thippong and seven others, and two shots ahead of Tabuena and four others after the first round of the 72-hole championship, which offers spots in next month’s the British Open at the Old Course in Scotland.

Tabuena, eager to make up for his botched stint due to travel woes in the Maekyung Open at the NamSeoul Country Club last month, crowded Lee and Han on top with a three-birdie frontside 33. But the ICTSI-backed Filipino fumbled on the par-4 No. 15, leading to a double bogey and dropping him instead outside of the Top 10.

He parred the last three holes, missing a chance on the last par-5, the longest at 570 yards.

Tabuena, coming off a playoff setback in the local pro circuit at Splendido last month, endured tough conditions in a late tee-start marred by downpour and threat of thunderstorms, birdying the first two of the layout’s three par-5s (Nos. 5 and 8) after gaining a stroke on No. 2.

But after five pars at the back, he hit an errant shot on No. 15 and failed to save a bogey but kept a one-under card to be in the thick of things in the early going of the four-day championship at the long 7.326-yard layout.

Han, meanwhile, cashed in on an early start and fired three birdies while preserving his solid pair of 34s with three scrambling pars. He actually struggled on his way to the greens, going out of regulation eight times but made six one putts to preserve a bogey-free card.

Hwang, who also shot three birdies at the front, actually surged ahead with a birdie on the 15th but holed out with a bogey, falling to a three-way tie.


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