STA. ROSA, Laguna – Micah Shin tood out on a punishing day at The Country, producing a stirring five-under 67 that shoved the young American past Miguel Tabuena after the third round of the TCC Invitational-Don Pocholo Razon Memorial Cup.
While the rest of the elite field were ruffled by the strong gusts and tough pin placements, Shin made it look a little bit easy with his crisp driving, near-impeccable iron game and exceptional putting as he tamed the dreaded backside with a 32 to be at four-under 212.
Shin also withstood a triple-bogey on an errant drive on the tight par-4 No. 4, playing the last 12 holes in six-under, capped by a birdie-birdie windup.
“I made a number of solid drives today. Most of them landed on the fairways, an important aspect that I must duplicate in the final round to get a shot at the time,” said Shin, who grew up and honed his talent and skills in Davao.
But outside his birdie splurge, Shin, whose lean frame belies his power off the tee, made mention of his spectacular par-save on the par-4 No. 9 where he hit a wayward drive into the bushes, took a penalty drop and hacked a solid approach to within five feet.
“That’s my shot of the day,” he said.
Tabuena held sway majority of the way, mixing two birdies against the same number of bogeys after 15 holes. But he stumbled with a bogey on No. 17 and settled for a 73 that dropped him to second at 214.
He later said he actually felt a slight cracking sound on his left shoulder after the second round and went straight to the hospital for a check-up.
“The doctor said I have pulled a rotator but said I could play on. I just need to rest after the tournament,” said Tabuena, who had a grueling campaign in the Asian Tour at the start of the new season.
Still, he said it hardly affected his game and vowed to strike back in the final round in a bid to complete a back-to-back feat in the P5 million event put up by ICTSI president and chairman Ricky Razon in 2003.
With first round leader Guido Van der Valk falling 11 strokes behind at third at 223 after a wind-blown 81, the fight for the top P1.5 million has been reduced into a two-way battle with the 21-year-old Shin going for this third pro victory after ruling the CAT Open at Luisita in 2016 and an Asian Tour event last year.
Like Tabuena and Van der Valk, the rest turned in over-par scores.
Former champion Tony Lascuña had a 78 for fourth at 227, while back-to-back PGT Asia winner Jhonnel Ababa stumblied with a 77 for a 229 for joint fifth.
Frankie Miñoza (76), Elmer Salvador (78) and Keanu Jahns (82) and Jobim Carlos (74) are in joint ninth with American Nicolas Paez (76) and Jay Bayron (77) at 230.