AFTER a five-year wait, Michael Bibat finally played to his potential.
The former Asian Games bronze medalist seized his first championship as a pro yesterday, shooting a two-under-par 69 to rule the ICTSI Palos Verdes Classic by two shots over Antonio Lascuña and Elmer Salvador in Davao.
Bibat, who drew criticism for turning his back on a promising amateur career to play for money, fended off Salvador and Lascuña using a hot back nine to taste his first victory, worth P200,000.
“It’s a really nice feeling because it’s my first title after five years,” said Bibat.
Together with earlier rounds of 68 and 67, Bibat tallied 204 over the bending layout as Salvador, who fired a 68, and Lascuña, who returned a 66, finished tied at 206 and split the combined P210,000 for second and third places.
Jay Bayron saw a final-day rally lose steam with a triple bogey-7 on the 13th. He settled for a 70 and a fourth-place tie at 207 with five others, including the legendary Frankie Miñoza, who closed out with a 68.
Elmer Saban started the day one shot behind but failed to gain ground, signing for a 71 to be in that group of Bayron and Miñoza.
First-round leader Guido Van Der Valk of the Netherlands carded a 72 and also finished at 207 in the event also backed by Nike Golf, Empire Golf and Sports Shop, Mizuno, Titleist, Srixon, Foot Joy, Callaway, Pacsports, Custom Clubmakers, Cleveland Golf and Sharp.
Dante Becierra, who seized a share of the lead with Bibat after the second round, skied to a 75 and wound up with 210.
Lascuña, the reigning Order of Merit champion who was six flights ahead of Bibat’s group, mounted an early fightback with a front-nine 32. He hit another birdie on No. 15 to close to within two of Bibat, only to muff two makeable birdie putts on the last three holes. Musong R. Castillo