Tabuena nurses one-shot bufferBy Musong R. Castillo |Philippine Daily Inquirer
TRECE MARTIREZ, Cavite—Miguel Tabuena fired a roller-coaster two-under-par 70 yesterday and barely clung to the lead at the ICTSI Sherwood Hills Classic after Japanese qualifier Toru Nakajima fired a 68 to come within a stroke.
The 18-year-old Tabuena broke out of a tie for the lead with Nakajima with a birdie on the 17th as he moved on course for the third title of his young career with a 210 total going into his final-flight duel today with the campaigner from Yamanashi prefecture.
Nakajima pounced on a bogey-bogey start by Tabuena, the two-day leader, and made the turn at 32 to wipe out a three-stroke deficit.
But the Japanese, who finished tied for second behind Dutchman Guide Van Der Valk in the Tour qualifying two weeks ago at Splendido, lost momentum after lapsing into back-to-back bogeys from the 10th. Charles Hong matched par for the second successive day and dropped to third, now four strokes off the pace, even as Edward Reyes, a 21-year-old Tour qualifier who fired a tournament-best 66 on Thursday, returned a 71 to remain in the hunt at 215.
The legendary Frankie Miñoza, one of the pre-tournament favorites following his victory in the rich The Country Club Invitational last month, cracked par for the first time with a 70 and lay 11 shots off Tabuena.
Tabuena actually gunned down seven birdies—his most in a day this week—but had an uncharacteristic five bogeys and failed to build a comfortable buffer going into the final 18 holes of the circuit’s kickoff leg.
He remained confident of his chances, though.
“I’ve been saying this the last three days and I will say it again: I’m really feeling good (about my chances) in this tournament,” said Tabuena.
Only four players remained under par with former national team spearhead Ferdie Aunzo staying even after a second consecutive 73.
The veteran Mars Pucay returned a 74 and stood at 217 like Carl Santos-Ocampo, who submitted a 70.
The leading scores (Filipino unless stated): 210—M. Tabuena 71-69-70; 211—T. Nakajima (JPN) 73-70-68; 214—C. Hong 70-72-72; 215—E. Reyes 78-66-71; 216—F. Aunzo 70-73-73; 217—C. Santos-Ocampo 75-72-70, M. Pucay 73-70-74; 218—G. Rosales 72-77-69, Z. Gialon 74-73-71, M. Fernando 74-71-73; 219—G. Van Der Valk (NED) 74-76-69; 220—R. Bayron 73-78-69, C. Casas 73-78-69, T. Yoshinaga (JPN) 73-76-71, J. Bernis 74-71-75, R. Sasutil 73-71-76; 221—F. Miñoza 76-75-70, N. Salahog 77-71-73; 222—M. Dumandan 71-78-73; 223—C. Mondilla 74-76-73, C. Delos Santos 70-78-75; 224—J. Bayron 68-82-74, M. Bibat 77-73-74