CANADA’S Richard Lee played steady to score the win, while Angelo Que tumbled from the top with one disastrous hole on Sunday in the Solaire Open at The Country Club in Canlubang, Laguna.
Lee had his miscues including a double-bogey on the tough par-4 No. 4, but made up for that with clutch birdies for a two-under 69 and a seven-under 277 total to win the Asian Tour event by one stroke from Thailand’s Chawalit Plaphol.
Que led by one after 54 holes, but scored a disastrous 12 on the par-5 No. 2 after going out-of-bounds thrice. His came up with a closing 82, his worst score as a pro.
From top of the standings, the three-time Asian Tour winner ended up in joint 21st at 286.
Miguel Tabuena, just a shot off the lead after 54 holes, also struggled on the final day and carded a 76 to wind up in joint seventh at 281 in the $300,000 event sponsored by Solaire Resort and Casino.
Lee, meanwhile, played cool under tough conditions, draining a birdie putt from 25 feet on No. 15 and hit gutsy pars the rest of the way to pocket the top prize of $54,000.
Plaphol, who needed birdie on the closing hole to force a playoff, carded a 70 for a 286 and bagged $33,000.
“The wind was strong and it’s a challenging golf course. This is the strongest wind I’ve ever played in my life but despite the wind, I didn’t adjust my game that much,” said Lee.
“It feels great. When I made birdie No. 12, I told myself that if I can make one more birdie then I can make it happen. The 25-footer birdie on the No. 15 was a great and solid putt. I think that birdie made me win the tournament,” he added.
Spain’s Carlos Pigem fired a 69 to snatch third place at 279 and $18,900, while Japan’s Masahiro Kawamura tied for fourth at 280 with a bogey-free six-under 65.
Englishman Steve Lewton shot a 67 while American Paul Peterson carded a 69 for 280s worth $12,430 each.
Tabuena dropped two strokes on the par-3 No. 11 but recovered a bit with three birdies in the last five holes.
The teenage star was tied with Aussie Andrew Dodt, who turned in a 70, and Clyde Mondilla, who made a 73, at 281. Each got $7,440.
Despite his meltdown, Tabuena believes he will come out a lot better in his future Asian Tour stints.
“It is always a bad feeling when you lose it like this. I learnt a lot of things especially from Angelo (Que). He hit it out of bounds three times on the second hole but he stayed positive. I know I will learn from this experience,” said the 19-year-old shotmaker.
“It is pretty nerve wracking when you are playing in your home country, especially with the crowd. You can’t learn experience, but you have to go through it. I’m sure I will become better because of this,” said Tabuena, who rebounded with birdies on Nos. 14, 16 and 17.
Que, who actually went 2-up with a birdie on the opening hole, never recovered from that 12 as he fumbled with five bogeys and a double bogey against two birdies for an atrocious 82.
Que was tied with Elmer Salvador who had a 70, and Aussies Kalem Richardson, who made a 72, and Terry Pilkadaris, who shot a 74.
“I can’t take my round back. It is a lesson learnt from me. I feel bad because I had a chance to win but blew it on one hole. These things happen. That’s golf and life. All you can do is look back and see what you’ve learnt and move on. I just had one bad day. Everybody has bad days. Unfortunately for me, it is just one bad hole,” said Que.
“I had three bad shots in a row on No. 2. Unfortunately there was an OB (out of bounds) on the left. I’ve always had a hard time on that hole. I hit more out of bounds on that hole than on the fourth hole which is more difficult. It is just one hole, I will get over it,” he added.
While the wild final round on the demanding course was expected, the same could not be said of Que and Tabuena’s foldup after the top Filipino bets kept the 1-2 posts in the middle rounds.
As Que fell back early, Tabuena tried to hang tough but failed to handle the pressure and the wind that blew from all over, bogeying No. 2, dropping a stroke on the next then making four straight bogeys from No. 5.
Mondilla, also four shots off Que at the start of the final round, bogeyed No. 1 but struck back with a birdie on the next, only to falter with two more bogeys in a four-hole stretch from No. 3. He, however, kept the surging Lee in sight with a 37 at the turn and a birdie on No. 13 but bogeyed No. 15 which the Canadian birdied to stay in control.
Plaphol, who had a 36 at the turn, eagled the par-5 No. 10 for the second straight day and birdied the other par-5 No 14 but settled for pars the rest of the way and fell short of his comeback bid.
Pigem turned in a 33 at the back but ran out of holes to get a shot at the crown despite a birdie-birdie windup while Kawamura produced the lowest backside score of 31 and came back from way down in joint 35th to salvage a share of fourth with that 65.