TARLAC – Miguel Tabuena pulled off one of the most stirring comebacks in local golf history, battling from seven strokes down then pouncing on South African Mathiam Keyser’s errant drive in sudden death to snatch the ICTSI Luisita Championship on Saturday.
Tabuena needed a bogey-free six-under 66 to get a shot in sudden death, but the $60,000 event had an anti-climactic finish as Keyser, who closed out with a 71 to tie Tabuena at 277, found the water off the 18th mound and endied up with a double-bogey.
“I’m very happy because I made it despite the odds where I trailed all throughout,” said Tabuena, who clinched the victory worth $10,500 with a routine par.
His 11-under aggregate with Keyser also stood as the official record at the quaint par-72 Luisita layout, according to Luisita general manager Jeric Hechanova.
Brimming with confidence after that 66 feat, Tabuena hit his 4-wood tee shot on their second trip on No. 18 into the fairway then watched Keyser hook his into the water.
Pressure-free, the Filipino ace hacked a wedge shot from 104 yards barely on the green then pitched and putted for par from four feet while Keyser knocked his third shot from 148 yards then three-putted from 25 feet for a double bogey.
“He’s good, he deserved the win,” said Keyser of Tabuena, who relived his glory days at Luisita where he ruled the CAT (Central Azucarera de Tarlac) Open and topped the rain-shortened Philippine Open, both in 2015.
Tabuena did see action here last year but withdrew in the second round with a bad back with Tony Lascuña scoring a four-shot romp over Korean Park Jun Hyeok.
Third round leader John Michael O’Toole actually padded his two-shot overnight lead with a birdie on the first hole but succumbed under pressure and double-bogeyed No. 4 while missing a couple of birdie chances for a 37.
O’Toole limped home with a 76 and fell to joint seventh at 280.