Teenage star Miguel Tabuena hit bogeys at the start of each nine but twice came up with fiery finishes to score a 67 and stand as joint-leader after the first round of the Queen’s Cup on Thursday in Samui, Thailand.
The 17-year-old Tabuena bogeyed his first hole, the par-4 No. 10, but he strung up three birdies from No. 16 for a 33 at the Santiburi Samui Country Club.
He again dropped a shot on No. 1 but quickly recovered with birdie on the third hole and finished with two birdies in the final four for a 34 and the early lead.
The teener was caught by senior tour campaigner Boonchu Ruangkit of Thailand in the afternoon with a blemish-free round of 67.
The 56-year-old Ruangkit, who owns five Asian Tour titles and also plays on the Senior European Tour, and Tabuena lead by one stroke over Korea’s Baek Seuk-hyun and home bets Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Rattanon Wannasrichan.
Tabuena is riding the momentum of winning his second trophy in five tournaments in the Philippine Golf Tour last week.
“I’m pretty happy. I think it’s the momentum from last week and I just stuck to my game plan,” Tabuena told asiantour.com.
“I won the two events with the best players in the Philippines. Juvic (Pagunsan) was in the field, Frankie (Minoza), Angelo (Que), Mars (Pucay) … the confidence is there right now. I hope it stays there for the rest of the week.”
Now the teenage sensation, who missed gaining a full card this year when he fell short by $250 in the money rankings last year, hopes to put himself in contention for his first Asian Tour title after coming tantalizingly close in the Philippine Open in February.
“It took me a long time to recover,” Tabuena said of disastrous final-round 81 at Wack Wack. “I thought I had it but Mardan (Mamat) played so steady, like a veteran to win. I told myself that you have many more tournaments to go, you’re still young, and to keep working at your game.”
“Key to the scores here is to stay patient. You just have to hit fairways and greens and let the putting do the work. You can’t get ticked off on this course as if you do, you can shoot anything here. Hopefully, I can win here so that I can be more relaxed and not get too worried about my card like last year.”
Australia’s Adam Groom, Thailand’s Prayad Marksaeng and Korea’s Hong Soon-sang all scored 69 followed by a big group at one-under 70 that includes Pucay.
Antonio Lascuna had an even-par 71, Jay Bayron shot a 74, last year’s Asian Tour Order of Merit topnotcher Pagunsan carded a 75, while Que and Elmer Salvador shot 77s.