Tabuena stays flawless, storms to 3-shot lead with 62

Miguel Tabuena kept pounding the Camp John Hay layout and the field with another bogey-free six-under 62, whisking off Dabawenyo Rufino Bayron and Michael Bibat and storming to a three-shot lead over a charging Jhonnel Ababa, another Dabawenyo, in the third round of the ICTSI Camp John Hay Championship yesterday.

Tabuena appeared to have had more trouble bucking a bum stomach than outplaying Bayron and Bibat in the final threesome as he dished out another superb all around game to extend his amazing spot-less run to 54 holes while threatening to blow away the field the way he did in the ICTSI-Philippine Golf Tour’s kickoff leg at Sherwood Hills last month.

He putted from the fringe on the reachable par-5 16th for an eagle, capping another 62 for a whopping 19-under 185 total in the tournament organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. Tied with Bayron halfway through the P2.5 million event, Tabuena now moved three shots clear of Ababa, who sizzled two flights ahead with an eight-under 60 to take the challenger’s role at 188.

“How I wished it to be a 54-hole tournament,” said Tabuena, referring to this event that was played through 54 holes last year but now a 72-hole championship and one of the eight P2.5 million tournaments in this year’s ICTSI PGT calendar.

He was grimacing in pain as he turned in his scorecard that nevertheless showed the brilliance in the 18-year-old find, who birdied four of the first 10 holes while coming through with awesome flop shots that either set up birdie opportunities and tap-in pars in times that he went out of regulation.

Jay Bayron, the reigning Asian Development Tour Order of Merit champion, continued his steady rise with a 62, capped by a closing three-birdie binge as he joined today’s final group at 190.

Bibat, just one down behind Tabuena and Rufino Bayron at the start of the round, failed to sustain a three-birdie string from No. 9 and fumbled with three bogeys against two more birdies in the last seven holes for a one-under 67. He dropped to joint fourth with Zanie Boy Gialon, Tony Lascuna and Clyde Mondilla, who shot 62, 63 and 64, respectively, for 191s.

Rufino Bayron, who carded the first 60 in the first round, never recovered from a bogey-bogey start and ended up with a one-over 69 to tumble to eighth at 192 while Elmer Salvador and James Ryan Lam each had a 62 to tie Dutch Guido Van Der Valk, who made a 63, at 193.

While Tabuena primed up for another title romp after posting an eight-shot win over Edward Reyes at ICTSI Sherwood, Ababa put himself in contention for the top P450,000 purse with that 60 sparked by a sizzling four-birdie start.

Ababa, who racked up three wins in 2011 to clinch the Player of the Year award but had a fruitless campaign last year, also rolled in an eagle from the fringe on the short par-4 No. 8 and had four more birdies to negate two three-putt miscues in another windless day.

“I hope to improve on my putting since this will spell the difference in the final round,” said Ababa, still upbeat of his title chances in the event sponsored by ICTSI and backed by Nike Golf, Empire Golf and Sports Shop, Mizuno, Titleist, Srixon, Foot Joy, Callaway, Pacsports, Custom Clubmakers, Cleveland Golf and Sharp with Balls, Studio 23, and Inquirer Golf as media partners.(pr)


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