Vince Solon dueled Lino Magpantay in a seesaw battle across the front nine before turning his game up a notch and scorching the last nine holes to emerge low-gross champion of the recent 2010 Mabuhay Miles Elite Invitational at the Manila Southwoods Golf and Country Club in Carmona, Cavite.
Solon, a California-based Mabuhay Miles “Million Miler,” fired three birdies to go along with 13 pars en route to a gross score of 71, one under par on the tough Nicklaus-designed Masters course that has hosted four Philippine Opens.
It was the lowest gross round scored in the tournament since 1999 and it underscored the giant strides Solon’s play has taken since. Back then, Solon was a Class C player, with a 19 to 25 handicap. Today, he boasts a 2 handicap.
The two-stroke buffer nearly won for Solon this year’s overall net title as well, but his 69 was not enough to catch Magpantay’s net score of 68, which was carved out of a gross 78.
Magpantay, a veteran campaigner in the Philippine Airlines Interclub, settled for overall net honors. He had a respectable round highlighted by a tournament-high four birdies alongside seven pars and four bogeys.
The rest of the 270-strong field – all Elite and Premier Elite members of PAL’s Mabuhay Miles program – was surprisingly competitive despite humid conditions in the event sponsored by Airbus, Allied Bank, Boeing, GE Capital Aviation Services, GE Aviation, MasterCard International Philippines Inc., Mizuno and Sabre Airline Solutions.
Typical of the close battles was the Class A competition, where the top three finishers dueled each other the entire day before ending up in a dead heat – a net score of 69.
In the countback, the three birdies and nine pars of Allan Jason Bautista gave him the division crown over last year’s low-gross champion Louis Bartolome Borja and Gene Arthur Go.
The tournament had as corporate sponsors Abacus International, DG Biocare Group Australia, Diamond Hotel, Manny O Wines, Panasonic Avionics Corp. and Petron Corp.
Class B had a clear winner in Robert Umali, whose net 69 out of a gross 84 included three birdies. He beat out Franco Ibo and Dexter Pasion, who both ended with identical net 71s on the back of one birdie and nine pars. But Pasion’s five bogeys gave runner-up honors to Ibo.
Century Bangus, Citibank, Pacific Paints (Boysen) Philippines, Union Bank and Victorinox/World Traveller and Yahoo! Philippines were the event’s minor sponsors.
Over at the Legends course, Class C produced another tight finish, with Timoteo Pacleb’s net 70 nosing out Randy Ang and David Carl Ritchie by a stroke. Ang edged ahead on the strength of more pars.
Toyota Motor Philippines was the hole-in-one sponsor while Century Park Hotel was the official hotel of the tournament.
Class D was won by Candelario Amigable of Cagayan de Oro with a net 71 over Roberto Uy and David Huang, who submitted net rounds of 73 and 74, respectively.
The ladies division was topped for the second time by Zamboanga’s Lanie Verar, who scored an impressive 72 from a gross 90. She was also the best ladies’ player in 2007.
Danny Gutierrez took the guest division with a net 69.
Prize donors included Alegre Beach Resort & Spa, Banco de Oro, Crimson Resort & Spa Mactan, EDSA Shangri-La, Esprit/British India, Hilton Cebu Resort & Spa, Intercontinental Manila, Lufthansa Technik Philippines, Makati Shangri-La Hotel, Mandarin Oriental Manila, Maribago Bluewater Beach Resort, Manila Marriott Hotel, Microtel Inns & Suites (Pilipinas) Inc., Pan Pacific Manila, Quantium Solutions, Regency Lagoon Beach Resort, Shangri-La’s Boracay Resort & Spa, Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila, Tanduay, and Traders Hotel Manila.[pr]