STA. ROSA, Laguna – Miguel Tabuena grabbed the lead with a 71 but lost it later on a rule infraction, enabling Prom Meesawat to regain a one-stroke edge despite a 74 in the third round of the 100th Solaire Philippine Open at The Country Club.
American Nicolas Paez, the third man in the last flight, claimed the Filipino ace hit a loose impediment (leaf) in his backswing while playing out of a bunker at the par-3 No. 11, resulting in a two-stroke penalty.
Tabuena took it in stride, changed the “3” entry on his scorecard to “5,” signed it and left in a huff.
“Sorry, I can’t,” said Tabuena when asked for his comment on the infraction that could proved crucial to his title bid in the record $600,000 event put up by Solarie Resort and Casino.
The penalty enabled Meesawat to reclaim the lead at 217 despite two bogeys over the last four holes.
Tabuena, who won the 2015 Philippine Open, slipped to second place at 218 with pars in the last three after a birdie-bogey-birdie-bogey ride from No. 12.
"It was tough today. It was windy and to finish with two-over par, I was already pleased with my round," said Meesawat.
Guido Van der Valk also stayed in the hunt for the top $108,000 purse despite a wobbly finish of three bogeys in the last eight holes. The Dutchman pooled a 219 after a 74 on another wind-blown day at the dreaded Tom Weiskoph-designed layout.
Paez, just one behind the Thai veteran halfway through the event co-sanctioned by OneAsia and the National Golf Association of the Philippines and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. made four bogeys at the back and limped with a 77, tumbling down to joint fourth with Malaysian Nicholas Fung at 221, now four shots off the pace.
Fung fired one of the three 71s with American Matthew Negri and Thai Natipong Srithong turning in the tournament-best 69s that hardly bolstered their bid in the Centennial staging of Asia’s oldest National Open.