American Tarik Can banged in a par-saving putt from eight feet on the 18th then watched Thai Nirun Sae Ueng flub his own bid from a shorter distance to snare the Aboitiz Invitational 2019 crown in sudden death at Wack Wack East course yesterday.
Can failed to wrap it up with a bogey on the 72nd hole from almost the same distance for a 73, enabling Sae Ueng to force a playoff with a scrambling par from 20 feet for his own version of a one-over card as the duo finished tied at 292 after sharing second place after 54 holes.
But Can proved steadier in the end, matching Sae Ueng’s solid drive on their second trip on No. 18 in the day, hitting a superb wedge shot from the back of the green to within eight feet then sinking the putt that shattered the Thai, whose bid to send the match into another hole fizzled out after stroking it long from seven feet after a solid wedge shot from deep rough.
“I managed to get it up and down from behind the green in the playoff. It’s my first win in Asia and first in PGTA and I can’t believe I won with a four-over par total,” said Can, who highlighted his final round charge with a spectacular shot from under the trees on No. 4 to salvage par and stay in the hunt with a three-over overall card.,
He also knocked in a 20-foot birdie putt on No. 13 to surge ahead then came through with clutch pars, including another save on No. 16, to hold sway before toughening up in the playoff to clinch the victory worth $17,5000 that likewise foiled the Thai’ bid to reassert their domination of the early going of the third season of Philippine Golf Tour (PGT) Asia put up by ICTSI.
Namchok Tantipokhakul topped the kickoff leg at Luisita last April while Wisut Artjanawat ruled the first PGT Asia event abroad in Taiwan last May.
As third round leader Ira Alido cracked under pressure and blew a two-stroke lead with a 39 start, Can and Sae Ueng slugged it out shot-for-shot and putt-for-putt for the lead majority of the way with a slew of players slipping in for a shared view of the top only to reel back with miscues that had become a norm rather than exception at the demanding layout.