JAY Bayron birdied three of the last five holes to shoot a nine-under 59 then nipped Miguel Tabuena on the second playoff hole to rule the P2.5 million ICTSI Camp John Hay Championship on Saturday in Baguio City.
Bayron hit a 10-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to force a playoff as Tabuena cracked under pressure and missed clinching it outright with a putt that came up short.
The 18-year-old Tabuena finished with a four-under 64, enabling Bayron to tie him at 23-under 249.
Both made par on the first playoff hole at the par-3 15th.
Bayron came through with a solid 4-iron second shot from 210 yards on their second trip on the par-5 16th, leaving himself just about three feet. He missed the eagle putt but clinched the crown worth P450,000 as Tabuena failed to reach it in two and missed a long putt for birdie.
“I didn’t expect to win this one. I’ve never done this before, to come back from a such big deficit,” said Bayron in Filipino, who turned 34 Thursday.
Bayron thus snapped a two-year long title drought on the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
It wasn’t actually a sorry finish for 18-year-old Tabuena, who completed a record bogey-free 54-hole stint despite a bum stomach Friday. He extended that amazing run to four more holes in the final round, even birdying three of them until he stumbled to his first bogey on No. 5. He made another bogey on No. 7 but birdied three of the last nine holes and took home P320,000.
Jhonnel Ababa rallied with three straight birdies and finished with a 63 for solo third at 251 worth P210,000, while Rufino Bayron shot a 61 for fourth at 253 and took home P150,000 in the event sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc.
Richard Sinfuego also turned in a 60 to jump from out of nowhere to solo fifth at 255 and bag P110,000, while Michael Bibat and Clyde Mondilla both carded 65s and ended tied for sixth at 256. Each got P87,500.
Tony Lascuna wound up eighth at 258 after a 67 and received P70,000 while Rey Pagunsan set a new course record of 58, eclipsing Carl Santos-Ocampo’s 59 last year, to share ninth place at 260 with Christopher delos Santos (66), Randy Garalde (66) and Elmer Salvador (67). Each received P50,125.
Just when everybody thought Tabuena would cruise to another victory after storming to a three-shot lead over Ababa over the course he had mastered with a run of bogey-free cards in the first three rounds, Bayron worked his way back with a run of birdies of his own then made an eagle on the drivable par-4 No. 8 to tie Tabuena.
Still, the young Tabuena refused to give up, pouncing on Bayron’s bogey on the ninth to regain the lead then went two-up again with a brilliant birdie on the 10th after opting for a conservative iron-tee shot on the reachable par-4 hole before pitching to within six feet.
Bayron and Ababa expectedly went for the green but failed to set up decent birdie chances, enabling Tabuena to post another two-shot cushion.
Bayron, however, birdied the par-3 11th from three feet to close the gap again although Tabuena hung tough, birdying No. 13 to go two-up again then hit another one on the 16th to preserve a one-stroke lead over Bayron, who struck back again by birdying Nos. 15 and 16.
After both parred the par-5 17th, Bayron rolled in a crucial 10-foot birdie putt on the par-3 18th, then watched Tabuena wilt under pressure, falling short of what could’ve been a winning birdie putt from a closer distance in the event backed by Nike Golf, Empire Golf and Sports Shop, Mizuno, Titleist, Srixon, Foot Joy, Callaway, Pacsports, Custom Clubmakers, Cleveland Golf and Sharp with Balls, Studio 23, Pinoygolfer.com and Inquirer Golf as media partners.