Miguel Tabuena plans to play week in and week out in a bid to see action in the lucrative US PGA Tour following a breakthrough win in the United States Sunday (Monday in Manila).
Tabuena, 26, said he is proud of the win since his conquest of the Idaho Open in Boise, Idaho in lopsided fashion was his first as a professional campaigner on American soil.
“So proud of this victory because it’s my first in the US as a pro. So I guess it sort of shows me that I’m doing something right,” said Tabuena, who closed with a 68 for a four-shot win over Brad Marek.
“Immediate target would have to be gaining status on the Korn Ferry Tour.”
The multi-titled Philippine Golf Tour campaigner drove a wedge between him and his pursuers with a stirring seven-under 63 in brutal windy conditions in the second round to build a five-stroke cushion heading to the final round of the 54-hole championship at the par-70 Quail Hollow Golf Club.
Although he stumbled with a double bogey on the par-3 No. 4 and dropped another shot on the sixth that enabled Marek to close within three, the two-time Philippine Open champion shrugged off the early slip with a clutch eagle on the par-5 No. 7 then birdied the ninth to restore a five-shot bulge and all but settle the result.
Marek never gave up and put on a strong backside finish of three-under 32 spiked by an eagle on No. 16 but it proved not enough to rattle the ICTSI-backed Tabuena, who gunned down three birdies against a bogey to cruise to a four-stroke triumph on a 14-under 196 total worth $5,000.
Marek shot a 69 to finish second with a 200 Jamie Hall carded a 69 to finish third at 203.
The event served as part of the PGA (Professional Golfers’ Association) Rocky Mountain Section with Tabuena, who became the first Filipino to play in the weekend in a full-player PGA Tour event in the 2017 Sony Open in Hawaii, priming up for bigger battles ahead in pursuit of a Korn Ferry Tour card and hopefully a crack at the PGA Tour.
He next competes in one of the satellite tournaments making up the first stage of the three-part Korn Ferry qualifying in Nevada on 28 September. Players who advance to the final stage will be assured of Korn Ferry Tour conditional status for 2022.
The eliminations in 13 sites in the PGA Tour’s farm league actually kicked off in Georgia and Texas last month. The other qualifiers are set in Texas, North Carolina, Nebraska, Florida and Illinois.
“I want to be able to win week in and out. In the — hopefully, not too long — run, of course, the dream is to play in the US PGA Tour,” he said.
The PGA Rocky Mountain Section, in its report, described Tabuena’s fiery second round 63 (30-33) in exacting conditions, particularly in the back-nine, as “remarkable by any standard” and the cushion he built was just too much to overcome.
Tabuena, who kicked off his campaign with a 65 on a six-birdie, one bogey card, parred the first three holes in the final round and even padded his lead to six as Marek bogeyed the second hole.
But the diminutive but talented Filipino hit an errant shot on the par-3 No. 4 and needed two extra shots to hole out then dropped another stroke on the sixth.
Tabuena, however, struck back with an eagle on No. 7, frustrating Marek no end as the latter holed out with a birdie before the former birdied the ninth to send that title race back to where it started — with the Pinoy ace on top by five.
Tabuena birdied Nos. 10 and 14 against Marek’s birdie on the 11th to stretch his lead to six then closed out with a bogey-birdie-par roll against his rival’s eagle on No. 16 to fashion out the four-shot victory.
“This is the first one I played in the US since coming over a few months ago,” he said.
“I’ve been practicing and undergoing physical training leading up to this.”