Tabuena wrests Sherwood lead with 69

Miguel Tabuena outgunned Mhark Fernando and Toru Nakajima in their backside shootout and fired a 69 as he wrested a two-stroke lead over Charles Hong halfway through the P2.5 million ICTSI Sherwood Hills Classic in Trece Martirez, Cavite yesterday.

On a day when first round leader Jay Bayron of Davao turned from awesome to awful with an 82 after a 68, Tabuena turned in that three-under card behind a sizzling finish, birdying three of the last five holes to storm in front at 140.

“I’m feeling good,” said Tabuena, out to duplicate his opening leg victory at Splendido last year in the kick off leg of this year’s 17-stage circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments Inc. and sponsored by ICTSI.

The 18-year-old shotmaker’s blistering windup also silenced flightmates Fernando and Nakajima, who battled him in a birdie-binge in the last nine holes. The Japanese qualifier overcame a double-bogey mishap on the 10th with three birdies in row from No. 13 but dropped a stroke on par-3 16th before holing out with another birdie for a 70 and a 143.

Fernando, on the other hand, hit two birdies in the last six holes to card a 71 and 145 in a tie with Orlan Sumcad and Jun Bernis, who had 74 and 71, respectively.

With Bayron tumbling down the leaderboard at joint 22nd with a 150, Hong took the challenger’s role at 142, his gutsy even par 72 putting him in contention for a follow up to his breakthrough victory at Pueblo de Oro in last year’s staging of the annual circuit backed by Sharp, Nike Golf, Callaway, Titleist, Custom Clubmakers, Mizuno, Cleveland Golf, Foot Joy, Event Captain, Inc., Omnisource Inti’l. TPGAP.

Mars Pucay shot a 70 and Ferdie Aunzo sputtered with a 73 to tie Nakajima at 143, three strokes off Tabuena while Edward Reyes, who also gained his Tour card with a top 10 finish in last week’s PGT Q-School, shot the tournament-best, eagle-spiked 66 to jump from out of nowhere to joint sixth with Ruben Sasutil, firing a 71, at 144.

Reyes, who had a 78 start Wednesday, rattled off four birdies in the first six holes, including three straight from No. 4, before dropping a stroke on the ninth. He parred the first four holes at the back, birdied No. 14 before hitting an eagle on the par-5 15th for a pair of 33s and a 66.

Tabuena, out to duplicate his opening-leg victory at Splendido last year, had a so-so one-birdie, one-bogey start at the front and hit another birdie against a bogey in the first four holes at the back.

But he birdied the tough par-4 14th then strung up two more on Nos. 16 and 17 to surge ahead of the stellar field chasing the top P450,000 purse in the 72-hole championship supported by media partners Balls, A Round of Golf, Inquirer Golf, Studio 23 and Pinoygolfer.com.

Hong, also the mentor of the winning South Team in last year’s The Duel, shot three birdies against a bogey in the first seven holes at the back from where he teed off. But he reeled back with back-to-back bogeys then had a roller-coaster round of three birdies against two bogeys at the front for that 72.

Others who made it to the final 36 holes were Artemio Murakami (76-148), Marvin Dumandan (78-149), Gerald Rosales (77-149), Dutch Guido Van der Valk (76-150), Cassius Casas (73-151) and Frankie Minoza (75-151).(pr)

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