PH Open meltdown toughens up young pro

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Miguel Tabuena.

CANLUBANG, Laguna—A year ago this month, Miguel Tabuena had a chance to sit on top of the local golf scene only to be denied by a final round implosion in the Philippine Open that was remembered more than his heroics in the first three days.

“He’s learned a lot since then,” coach Rick Gibson told the Inquirer while stepping off the 18th fairway and watching his ward save par from seven feet for a two-under 68 that gave Tabuena a share of The Country Club Invitational lead.

“That set him back a little,” Gibson, a former PH Open champion who has called the Philippines home, added referring to the final round 81 at Wack Wack East that cleared the way for Singapore’s Mardan Mamat to win.

“But Miguel has been working so hard on all aspects of his game,” Gibson continued. “We never really changed anything but work hard on his putting and attitude towards the game.”

The 18-year-old Tabuena was man enough to again admit that nerves got the better of him in that fateful Sunday last year, when he started with bogey and never recovered.

“I wanted to play against the veterans that day to see what I have,” Tabuena said yesterday. “That experience has only made me a tougher player, it made me a veteran.”

And even if Tabuena did not say it, the way he played the first round at the TCC yesterday certainly confirmed that.

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