JHONNEL Ababa came up with a solid windup, firing a four-under 68 on Saturday to retain the ICTSI Pradera Verde Classic crown in Lubao, Pampanga.
Ababa gunned down three birdies in the last five holes to win by two strokes over David Gleeson of Australia.
“Fantastic,” said Ababa, who finished at 10-under 278 for his fourth championship, becoming the first player to score back-to-back victories in the region’s newest circuit.
Ababa bagged $17,500 (around 920,000).
“I think I’m just lucky playing on PGT Asia. But the key was my birdie on No. 14. It didn’t only bolster my morale but more importantly, it gave me a one-stroke lead. That’s when I felt I could win again,” said Ababa, who then came through with superb approach shots on Nos. 16 and 17 that set up birdie chances from close range to seal the victory.
Ababa also scored back-to-back wins at Eagle Ridge and the won in Pampanga to close out the circuit’s inaugural season last year then broke away from a tight final round duel with three others and beat Jobim Carlos by three to rule the PGTA second season stop at Forest Hills last July.
Gleeson, who snared the kickoff leg crown of the second PGTA at Luisita on a three-hole playoff with Erwin Arcillas last April, snatched runner-up honors with an eagle on the par-5 18th, matching Ababa’s closing four-under card for a 270. He pocketed $11,500.
Gillis battled back from four shots down from fifth with a bogey-free 67, forcing a four-way tie at seven-under overall after his last birdie on No. 12. But he flubbed a couple of birdie chances the rest of the way, ending up at 281 for joint third with Clyde Mondilla, who birdied three of the last 12 holes to card a 69. Each received $6,300.