CHARLES Hong came away with clutch birdies to fire a four-under 68 on Saturday and win the ICTSI Sherwood Hills Classic by two strokes at the Sherwood Hills Golf Club in Trece Martirez, Cavite.
Hong set up a birdie on the par-3 No. 16 with a solid 5-iron tee shot that landed two feet off the cup, then made another birdie from five feet off another superb approach shot on the 17th.
Despite making bogey on the final hole, Hong nailed his second career win with a 12-under 276 total.
His prize, a whopping P650,000, was six times more than what he earned when he nipped veteran Richard Sinfuego in sudden death in the ICTSI Pueblo de Oro leg in 2012.
He moves from No. 10 to second (P845,930) in the Tour Order of Merit behind absentee Tony Lascuna (P885,000) after four legs of the circuit sponsored by ICTSI.
Hong, who hit three eagles to shoot a 65 and bounce back into contention in the third round Friday, had appeared headed for another playoff finish when Micah Shin birdied No. 15 from five feet to force a tie at 11-under, but proved proved steadier in the end.
Despite the setback, Shin showed he has what it takes against some of the country’s top grizzlied players as the 17-year-old Davao-based shotmaker finished at 11-under 277 and bagged the runner-up prize worth P430,000.
Shin, who wrested the lead from first day leader Randy Garalde and hung tough to keep his two-shot lead intact heading to the final round, slipped with bogeys on Nos. 11 and 12, but tied Hong, which birdied the par-5 12th, with a birdie on No. 15, although he reeled back in the face of Hong’s blazing finish.
With Garalde failing to make a last-ditch charge, Shin and Hong slugged it out in the first nine holes with the former birdying the opening hole to go 3-up and the latter fighting back with his own birdie on the second.
Hong dropped a shot on the third to fall behind by three again but gained a two-shot swing with a birdie on the next coupled by Shin’s bogey to close within one.
But Shin struck with back-to-back birdies from No. 7 to go three-up again but bogeyed the ninth to bring the duel to where it started – Shin up by two.
Garalde wound up with a 73 and placed third at 281 worth P240,000 while Zanie Boy Gialon rallied with the tournament-best eight-under 64 to snatch fourth place at 282 and pocket P195,000 in the event backed by Nike Golf, KZG, Titleist, Cleveland, Pacsports, Srixon, Callaway, Sharp, FootJoy and Custom Clubmakers, which also offers P50,000 for the Player of the Year at the end of the season.
Jay Bayron, winner at ICTSI Splendido, ended up fifth at 283 after a 69 (P155,000) followed by Mars Pucay (69-284-P135,000) and Elmer Salvador (70-285-P115,000), while Frankie Minoza (71), Canadian Rick Gibson (73) and Jessie Balasabas (74) finished tied for eighth at 286 and received P83,833 each.