CEBU CITY—Angelo Que fired a bogey-free 5-under-par 67 despite missing five greens to wrest a one-stroke lead over Elmer Salvador and make the chase for the ADT Aboitiz Invitational championship a virtual two-man race.
With a nifty short game that flightmate Anthony Fernando described as “not on the menu,” Que overhauled a four-stroke overnight deficit to Salvador by gunning down five birdies on his first 16 holes for a 10-under 206 total going into today’s final round.
Salvador, feeling numbness in his joints all round, returned a level 72 to be at 207, three shots clear of Dutchman Guido Van Der Valk and South Korean Park Il-hwan who carded a 69 and 72, respectively.
“I was thinking that the winning score (before the start of the tournament) would be around 13 to 14 under,” said Que, whose missed greens were the most he did in three rounds.
“But with Elmer and I being far ahead, we would only need to think of each other (today),” added Que, who pulled his driver out of the bag just 15 times in the first three days. “Putting will still be the key because everyone can hit the greens.”
Fernando shot a 73 and was in a four-man group at 211 along with Briton Ian Keenan.
Incidentally, Keenan had boasted that someone would have to play exceptionally well to beat him after coming within two shots of Salvador after 36 holes Thursday.
Keenan appeared to have talked too soon as he could only manage a 74 to be in Fernando’s company like Antonio Lascuña, who shot a 70, and Carl Santos-Ocampo, who matched par.
“Someone would need to shoot a very low round to catch us,” said the 34-year-old Que, who hit what seemed like line-drive pitches coming from the fringe.
Salvador failed to crack par for the first time in three rounds. But the 43-year-old from Davao wasn’t all beside himself, jokingly making his English interviews with a foreign correspondent as the reason.
“At least, when Angelo and I play in the final flight (today), I won’t need to talk to him in English,” Salvador said with a laugh in Filipino.
Jonel Ababa and Charles Hong both returned 70s to tie at 212.
Que and Salvador have played in the final flight several times before, and both remember only two instances vividly—the first in 2007, when Que won his first The Country Club Invitational by wiping out a four-stroke deficit, and the second at Malarayat in 2009, when Salvador left everyone eating his dust in the Philippine Open.
Van Der Valk will be the third man in the final group today, which will reprise the Open’s final day at Malarayat four years ago.
The 72-hole event is being sponsored by Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc. and backed by International Container Terminal Services Inc., Nike Golf, Srixon, Custom Clubmakers, Pacsports, Cleveland Golf, Callaway, Ping, Mizuno, Empire Golf and Sports Shop, Footjoy, Titleist, Sharp and BMW.