TRECE MARTIREZ, Cavite – Miguel Tabuena hit a clutch birdie on the 17th and salvaged a 70 as he held on to a one-shot lead over a charging Toru Nakajima in the third round of the P2.5 million ICTSI Sherwood Hills Classic at the Sherwood layout on Friday.
Japanese Nakajima fought back from three strokes to tie Tabuena with a 32 at the turn but made back-to-back bogeys from No. 10, enabling the Filipino teener to regain the solo lead with that closing three-foot birdie for a pair of 35s and a 54-hole haul of 210.
"I've been saying this the last three days but I'll say it again, I'm really feeling good the whole tournament," said Tabuena, who won two titles last year at Splendido and Eastridge.
But Nakajima, in top form after placing third in the recent PGT Q-School, stood right behind at 211 after firing the day’s best of 68 in tough conditions, setting the stage for a shootout for the top P450,000 purse in the 72-hole championship kicking off this year’s ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour.
"It's a great day," said Nakajima, who went on a blistering pace at the front with four birdies starting on No. 3 to tie Tabuena.
But the Yamanashi native fumbled with two straight bogeys at the back although he birdied two of the next four to keep himself within a stroke of the lead.
Erstwhile second running Charles Hong settled for a 72 and dropped four strokes behind at 214 while third round low scorer Edward Reyes slowed down with a 71 after a 66 for a 215.
"I struggled in the first day but I had strong performances the last two days. I guess I have to play like that, if not better, to have a chance here," said the 21-year-old Reyes, who placed ninth in the PGT Q-School.
Ferdie Aunzo turned in a second 73 after an opeing 70 for an even 216 while Carl Santos-Ocampo fired a 70 to tie Mars Pucay, who struggled with a 74, at 217.
Gerald Rosales rallied with a 33 and finished with a 69 as he moved up to joint eighth with Zanie Boy Gialon, who shot a 71, and Mhark Fernando, who hobbled with a 73, at 218.
The other backers of the event are Nike Golf, Mizuno, Srixon, Callaway, Custom Clubmakers, Sharp Cleveland Golf, Pacsports, Foot Joy, Titleist and Empire Golf and Sports Shop with Balls TV, Studio 23, Pinoygolfer.com and Inquirer Golf as media partners.