MIGUEL Tabuena fired a course-record tying seven-under 65 to wrest a one-stroke lead over Angelo Que in the third round of the P2 million ICTSI Splendido Classic in Tagaytay on Friday.
Tabuena torched the Splendido Taal Golf Club with seven birdies, leaving flightmate Tony Lascuna in awe and completing a 32-33 card that got him past a slew of fancied players and into the lead with a 54-hole aggregate of 12-under 204.
He was the third player to emerge as leader in as many days after Rufino Bayron stumbled to a 76 after an opening 67 and Benjie Magada turned from awesome to awful with a 75 after a second round 65.
The 19-year-old shotmaker will have to outdo himself to break the cycle as the title-hungry Que loomed large at 205 after an eagle-spiked 67 while Elmer Salvador stood some five strokes behind at 209 after a 71.
“I was actually set to go for the course record but changed my mind given the tough pin placement on No. 18,” said Tabuena, referring to the closing par-5 hole.
He settled for share of the course record with Bayron, who set the mark in the third round last year which Magada matched by Thursday.
“He’s good, very steady,” said Lascuna of his 19-year-old rival, who rattled in birdies from Nos. 4 and 7 then knocked down three more on Nos. 12, 14 and 16.
Lascuna actually led Tabuena by one after a birdie on the opening hole but reeled back with a cluster of missed birdie putts, finishing with a 71 and staying at joint fourth at 210 with Magada, who lost his touch with a three-over card marred by four bogeys and a double-bogey against three birdies.
Bayron stayed seven shots off Tabuena at 211 while Clyde Mondilla and Dutch Guido Van der Valk carded identical 71s for joint seventh at 212.
Korean Lee Hyun Woo sizzled with a 66 to move to solo ninth at 213 while Jhonnel Ababa shot a 68 to tie defending champion Jay Bayron, who wavered with a 73, at 214.
Ranged against Que in an expected explosive final round duel, Tabuena said he’d be relying on the same game plan he used in the first three days: “Don’t force the issue and stay focused.”
“My stints on the Asian Tour early in the year have boosted my confidence. But the key will be my putting, which has been clicking,” said Tabuena.
The long-hitting Que made five birdies although it was his chip-in eagle from the fringe on the par-5 No. 2 that spiked his 32-35 round in another scorching day.