Dabawenyo Elmer Salvador became the first player to repeat as champion on the Asian Development Tour, edging Angelo Que by one with a closing three-under 69 to annex the Aboitiz Invitational crown for the second consecutive year at the Cebu Country Club last July 28.
Salvador bucked a two-shot swing by Que on the final hole, escaping with the close win after missing the green off a fairway trap on the par-4, 360-yard No. 18 and Que barely holing out with an eagle from 90 yards off a monster drive.
“My gameplan was to play it a bit cautious given a tough rival in Que and the playing condition. Kailangan talaga mag-ingat,” said Salvador, who came up with a clutch birdie on the 17th that gave him a three-shot cushion heading to the final hole.
He wound up with a 12-under 276, four shots better than when he beat fellow Dabawenyo Tony Lascuña by six in summer rules last year. Salvador pocketed another $11,375 (around P490,000), becoming the first player to retain a crown on the four-year ADT serving as the feeder circuit to the Asian Tour. He beat Tony Lascuña by six here last year.
Jay Bayron, another Davao talent, also ruled the first two editions of this event sponsored by Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Inc. in 2010. But the inaugural Aboitiz Invitational was still not part of the ADT calendar.
“You should be thankful I didn’t make an eagle. Otherwise we’d still be out in the fairway,” Que told Salvador, referring to that possible three-shot swing on the final hole.
Settling for two strokes, Que settled for a 71 and a 277 worth runner-prize of $7,4675 in the event presented by International Container Terminal Services, Inc.
“Not bad – one win, one second and one third,” said Que, who only rejoined the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour last May where he won the ICTSI Orchard Championship. He also placed third to the ICTSI Pueblo de Oro Championship won by Frankie Minoza two weeks ago.
Carl Santos-Ocampo rallied with a 69 to snatch third place at 280 worth $4,450 while Englishman Ian Keenan shot a 71 and finished tied for fourth at 282 with Korean Park Il-Hwan and Dutch Guido Van der Valk, who both had 72s.
American Brian Locke, who led in the first round, fired a 69 for a 283 to tie Miguel Tabuena, who carded a 70, and Charles Hong, who turned in a 71, at seventh while seven players – Johvanie Abaño (68), Wolmer Murillo of Venezuela (69), Canadian Lindsay Renolds (70), Aussie Michael Moore (71), England’s Peter Richardson (71), Anthony Fernando (73) and Tony Lascuña (73), ended up tied for 10th at 284.
Bracing for a shootout with Que after yielding the halfway lead Friday, Salvador even fell by two after Que birdied the opening hole. But he rattled off four birdies in a five-hole stretch from No. 3 to wrest control and set the stage for an impending blowout instead.
For while Salvador kept on hitting birdies, Que kept on making bogeys, dropping three strokes in the last five holes at the front to fall behind by five.
For Salvador, it was a matter of time before could wrap up another championship although he somehow gave Que and the rest some room for a comeback with a rollercoaster ride at the back.
He bogeyed the 10th, hit a birdie on No. 14 only to drop another shot on the 15th while Que gunned down a birdie on the 11th and 16th to pull within two. But Salvador came through with a clutch birdie on the 17th for that big three-shot cushion heading to the final hole.
The other backers of the event, also the eighth leg of the ICTSI-PGT, were Nike Golf, Srixon, Custom Clubmakers, Pacsports, Cleveland Golf, Callaway, Ping, Mizuno, Empire Golf and Sports Shop, FootJoy, Titleist, Sharp and BMW.(pr)
Elmer Salvador receives from Aboitiz official William Paradies the replica of the check worth $11,375 after winning the Aboitiz Invitational crown for the second straight year at the Cebu Country Club.