Clutch putt helps Ababa steady roller-coaster round for Cebu Invitational crown
DANAO City, Cebu—Jhonnel Ababa had a three-stroke lead at one point before dropping behind by a shot twice.
It was an up-and-down round that needed a steadying shot, and Ababa provided one with a clutch putt to hold off Kim Joo-hyung and snare the inaugural ICTSI Club Filipino de Cebu Invitational crown by one on a closing 70 here Saturday.
Ababa had one more bad shot in his golf bag, hitting a wayward drive on the par-4 18th. He played out from the 10th fairway, hit a 52-wedge shot from 110 yards to within 10 feet then drilled in the uphill putt to escape with the par and the win on a 205 total in the rain-shortened P3.5 million event.
Ababa nailed his fourth victory this season, counting his three victories in the PGT Asia.
He did face another severe test this week—from a talent-laden international field to a tricky course to a wobbly final round stint that saw him squander a three-stroke lead he gained from the rain-suspended third round.
He fell behind by one to Kim after a double bogey on the par-3 No. 12 on another missed tee shot and to Aussie Damien Jordan after 13 holes.
But he rebounded strong on both occasions, flashing the kind of resolve that wins big-time championships, his birdie-birdie feat from No. 14 shoving him back to the lead which he kept until he hit that errant drive on the final hole.
“I was already prepared to go into a playoff. But my caddie (Edwin Sanchez) told me to just be safe and try to salvage a bogey at most,” said Ababa. “But I made a great uphill putt and that’s it.”
That putt clinched another P650,000 purse for the former national hotshot with the victory also bolstering his confidence heading to next week’s Aboitiz Invitational at the Orchard, another $100,000 event on PGT Asia where he considers himself “lucky.”
One down heading to the final hole Kim, who became the tour’s youngest winner at 16 at Pueblo de Oro on July, missed forcing a playoff from his end of the duel as he came up short on his approach from 166 yards.
Jordan also shot a 69 but finished third at 207.