Berry Henson of the US held off a plucky late charge from local hope Jay Bayron to win his first Asian Tour title at the grueling ICTSI Philippine Open yesterday.
The Asian Tour rookie made a pivotal up-and-down for par on the last hole to close with a one-over 73 and clinch his second international title in the span of two weeks at the challenging Wack Wack Golf and Country Club in Manila.
Bayron battled to a 72 to finish in second place with a 284 total, one stroke off the champion. South Africa’s Jbe Kruger, who finished second on three occasions last year, endured another agonizing day when he placed third on 285. Digvijay Singh of India was a stroke back in fourth as he secured his first top-five placing since 2003.
Taiwan’s Lin Wen-hong fired an even-par 72 to finish tied for eighth place. Wang Ter-chang stuttered to a 76 to finish in 13th, Hsu Mong-nan went one worse as his 77 left him in 22nd spot, while Chan Yih-shin’s 69 left him back in 44th.
“I feel like I went 72 rounds with Manny Pacquiao this week and didn’t get KO’d. I played on a very difficult golf course and the weather was brutal. It was a hard win,” said Henson, who won with a total of five-under 283.
Overnight leader Henson turned in 35 to hold a three-shot lead, but it was cut by one when he bogeyed holes 12 and 17.
“We were all struggling to make birdies and stay aggressive on the back nine. I made a couple of mistakes coming in, but everything worked out for me on the last hole,” the 31-year-old said.
Bayron shot an eagle four when his wedge shot from 120 yards rolled into the second hole. The home crowd rallied behind the former caddy, but his title aspirations were dashed when he made two straight bogeys from the 14th hole.
“Honestly, I was playing for second after the 15th hole. I tried to keep the thought of winning out of my mind for the entire round. Finishing second is a good result for me and I hope to build on this confidence,” the Filipino said.
India’s Singh shot three birdies in his opening five holes, before closing with one birdie and three bogeys in a round of 71. He credited his return to form to his wife Chitra.
“I have to credit my performance this week to my wife because we spoke a lot on what has to be done on the course,” Singh said. “I told myself to go out there and enjoy my round, and I did just that by thinking of my wife. Overall, it was a good result for me.”
Additional reporting by staff writer