MIGUEL Tabuena carded a five-under 67 in muddy condition for a three-stroke lead over Anthony Kim and three others in an emphatic start to his title-retention drive in the P3.5 million ICTSI Manila Masters on Wednesday at Eastridge Golf Club in Binangonan, Rizal.
Coming off a one-stroke triumph over Angelo Que in the Splendido Classic last week, the 20-year-old Tabuena birdied three of the first four holes then sank three more in the last 10 holes, making just one bogey, on No. 17.
Preferred lies were in play, and Tabuena recorded nines of 34-33 to move three strokes ahead of Kim, namesake of the American three-time PGA Tour winner.
Rufino Bayron, Jun Bernis, and Japan’s Toru Nakajima fired 70s to share second spot with Kim.
Kim (Kim Tae Woo) was already two-over but pulled even with an eagle on the par-5 13th and hit back-to-back birdies from No. 15.
Bayron made four birdies against two bogeys, Bernis got to three-under but bogeyed the 17th, while Nakajima had trouble on the back nine and shot 37.
“Despite the muddy fairway, my game still held, especially my iron shots and putting,” said Tabuena, who stretched his run of under-par rounds to five after topping the Splendido Class last week.
Clyde Mondilla, winner at Cangolf last year, gunned down five birdies but reeled back with a double-bogey on No. 11 and made two bogeys for a 71 that was matched by Dante Becierra, Keanu Jahns, James Ryan Lam, Miguel Ochoa and Carl Santos-Ocampo.
Tony Lascuna, who has topped the money list for three straight years, hit four birdies but fumbled with the same number of bogeys for joint 12th with three-time Asian Tour champion Angelo Que, Asian Development Tour titlist Elmer Salvador and another Korean Lee Seongki.
Jomar Pepito turned in a 73 while Frankie Minoza, Ferdie Aunzo, Sherwood Hills winner Charles Ong, Cookie La’O, Edward Reyes Orlan Sumcad and amateur Raymart Tolentino scored 74s.
Que, seeking an end to a long title spell before resuming his campaign on the Asian Tour after the Holy Week break, birdied the first two par-5s at the front in impressive fashion but bogeyed Nos. 7 and 9 before settling for a one-bogey, one-birdie back nine.
Salvador also had a solid start at the back, stringing three straight birdies from No. 13 but lost his momentum and bogeyed No. 17 before stumbling with a double-bogey on the 18th.