MIGUEL Tabuena fired a sizzling final-round 66 to rule the Philippine Open and claim his first Asian Tour victory on Sunday at Luisita Golf and Country Club in Tarlac.
Two strokes off entering the final round, Tabuena came up with a solid finish with five birdies in the final nine holes for a 202 total and a one-stroke win over Australia’s Scott Barr, who fired a closing 68.
Tabuena earlier this year won at Luisita on the way to topping the Philippine Golf Tour money list and he finishes the season with a flourish after several heartbreaks on the Asian Tour.
“To see my name on this trophy with so many legends is a dream come true,” said Tabuena.
“I thank God for keeping me calm. I knew it would be tough and I knew people were making a charge. I set a goal to shoot anywhere between 64 and 66. When I had a one-under at the turn, I knew I had to go for more birdies, to attack smart,” he added.
Himmat Rai had a tournament low 63, but that was not enough to overhaul a huge deficit after earlier rounds of 71-70. The Indian golfer wound up in joint third at 204 with Chinnarat Phadungsil of Thailand, who carded a 67.
Seukhyun Baek of Korea also shot a 66 for a 10-under 206, sharing fifth place with four others in teh tournament reduced to 54 holes after the Philippines was hit by heavy rains brought this week by typhoon Nona.
Lindsay Reynolds of Canada, who led the first two rounds, faltered with a 73 and wound up in a huge group in 10th place at nine-under 207.
Charles Hong, who also won at Luisita on the PGT this year, was the second best placed Filipino in the field at eight-under 208 after a closing 69, tying for 16th with, among others, former Philippine Open winner Mardan Mamat of Singapore.
Tabuena, who had earlier rounds of 67-69, bagged $54,000 (around P2.5 million).