Manila, Philippines: Miguel Tabuena pulled off a memorable victory in the 100th Solaire Philippine Open, edging Thai Prom Meesawat in sudden-death to reclaim the crown at The Country Club (TCC).
Tabuena, 23, recovered from an ego-deflating third round blunder that cost him a two-stroke penalty, hitting clutch birdies late in regulation to force a play-off at 289 with a 71 then out-duelling Prom, who closed with a 72, on the first extra hole.
The Filipino hit a solid drive on their return trip to TCC’s demanding 18th, barely missed the green then putted to within tap-in distance for par. In contrast, Prom drove into the fairway bunker near the big lake, hacked another shot into the greenside bunker and, unlike Tabuena, failed to get out in three off a bad lie.
Making it in four, he conceded the hole, the match and the championship.
When it was over, Tabuena, the 2015 champion in the rain-shortened Philippine Open at Luisita, stood tall and proud, having erased the stigma of that third round miscue with commendable resolve.
“I’ve never been mad going to the final round. I was thinking, it would’ve been different without the two-stroke penalty. It turned out it (infraction) wasn’t enough,” said Tabuena in jest.
“But that’s finished and I’m very happy to be on top,” added Tabuena, who banked another US$108,000 (about P5.4 million).
More importantly, he kept the extraordinary Philippine Open diadem at home, this being the 100th tournament of Asia’s eldest national Open and co-sanctioned by OneAsia and the National Golf Association of the Philippines.
“I’m really happy to put my name, not only once but twice, on this trophy, especially this being the Open’s 100th tournament,” said Tabuena. “It will surely boost my confidence for next week in the European Tour in India.”
Prom settled for US$66,000 out of the record US$600,000 purse in the event presented by Solaire Resort and Casino and which served as the final leg of the inaugural Philippine Golf Tour Asia.
“Prom played his heart out and it was really good fight. It was good for us and good for the fans,” Tabuena added.
The victory avenged Tabuena’s play-off loss to the Hua Hin native four years ago in the Yeangder Players Championship in Taiwan.
Guido Van der Valk, two behind Meesawat after 54 holes, became a virtual gallery in the championship flight as he fell further behind with bogeys in the first two holes. He would card a 74 for a 293 and third place, worth US$37,800.
Australian Michael Choi shot a 73 to place fourth at 295 followed by dethroned champion Steve Lewton of England, who matched par 72 to tie Nicolas Paez (75), the man who raised the rule infraction that cost Tabuena two strokes, at 296.