ARIE Irawan fought off an early threat from American Brett Munson and a late charge by Miguel Tabuena, winning the $60,000 ICTSI Eagle Ridge Invitational crown by four strokes with a closing even par 71 on Saturday at Eagle Ridge’s Aoki course in Gen. Trias, Cavite.
Irawan put in a solid 35 at the front then recovered from a bogey mishap on No. 13 with a slew of routine pars to frustrate Tabuena in another scorching, windy day and turn what had started to be a wild title chase into a runaway triumph for the young Malaysian, who started out in joint third with a 73, dropped to a share of fourth despite a 69 in the second round before storming to a three-shot lead with a 67 Friday.
With a four-under 280 aggregate, Irawan annexed his second championship in this year’s Asian Development Tour after hanging on to snare a one-stroke victory at PGM Sime Darby back home in January. The $10,500 top prize also pushed him closer to ADT Order of Merit frontrunner Hsieh Chi-hsien of Taiwan ($27,342) with earnings of $25,738.
“I just wanted to keep the ball on the fairway because the wind blew really strong the last two days. I was really surprised by the wind and it affected everybody with the scores literally showing the effect,” said Irawan, whose victory also snapped the local aces’ stranglehold of the ADT events.
For a while, Irawan looked headed for a tough finish as Munson birdied Nos. 2 and 3 to pull within one but the American faded just as quickly with two double bogeys and two bogeys in the next four holes. That enabled Irawan to pull away with an opening 35 as Tabuena struggled while trying to find his rhythm and fell by five with a 37.
It was cruise control for Irawan from there although Tabuena made one last charge with a birdie on No. 16 to bounce back to within three but bogeyed the final hole while trying to net a birdie. The young Filipino settled for a second straight 72 and wound up solo second at 284 worth $6,900.
“I just played cautious all throughout, went for the pin if there’s a chance and tried to be on a good spot for a nice finish,” added Irawan, who however won’t be around when Sherwood Hills Golf Club hosts the other ADT leg next Wednesday.
Given the tough conditions, there were efforts for comebacks in flights ahead of the final group but they remained as that – attempts – as Tony Lascuna and Jun Bernis, who started the day seven shots off Irawan, ran out of holes after moving to within five shots with three-under cards in one stretch.
Still, Lascuna, the reigning three-time Order of Merit champion of the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour and winner of the ADT Invitational last year, and Bernis snatched joint third place at 285 after identical 69s and shared the combined purse of $7,560.
Thai Poosit Supupramai matched par 71 and wound up solo fifth at 286 while Munson never recovered from that mid-frontside slide and limped with a 75, dropping to a share of sixth at 287 with Clyde Mondilla, Elmer Salvador and Americans Yoon Sejun and second round joint leader Micah Shin.
Mondilla, who scored a breakthrough win on the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour in Canlubang last year, blew a three-under card with two bogeys in the last four holes, ending up with a 70; Salvador, winner of last year’s ADT Riviera leg, went two-under after 11 holes but bogeyed Nos. 13 and 16 to finish with a 71; Yoon also squandered a solid 34 start with four straight bogeys from No. 13 and signed a 73; and Shin, who impressed the field with a fiery 66 midway through, succumbed to backside pressure, finishing with a 39 marred by a triple-bogey 7 on No. 14, for a 75.
The ADT will reward the top five finishers on the OOM at the end of the season with Asian Tour cards for 2016.