Singaporean veteran Mardan Mamat held on to a slender one-shot lead over a fast--charging Filipino teenager Miguel Tabuena after the third round of the ICTSI Philippine Open yesterday.
Mamat, chasing his third Asian Tour victory, holed several huge par saves en route to a battling two-under 70 at a wind-swept course to lead on seven-under 209 in Asia’s oldest national Open.
His overnight three-shot lead was reduced by local favorite Tabuena’s fine course record-equaling 67, while South Korea’s Mo Joong-kyung fired a 68 to trail by two on 211 with only the top-three players breaking par after 54 holes.
The 44-year-old Mamat, who has been winless since 2006, did not play as smoothly as in the second round, but his putter came through as he carded four birdies against two bogeys to set up an intriguing battle of the ages with the 17-year-old.
“I was struggling with my irons and hit a lot of fliers,” Mamat said after the round, “but I holed a lot of putts.”
Of his contest with the Filipino youngster, Mamat said he was looking forward to it.
“He’s a good potential. He’s got a good swing and good guidance from Rick Gibson [his coach]. He’s certainly an upcoming Asian player,” he said.
The tenacious Tabuena closed the gap on Mamat with a glorious start, sinking four birdies in his opening six holes.
“I just told myself to stay patient,” said Tabuena, who is bidding to become the third youngest winner on the Asian Tour. “It is really hard to make mistakes when you’re in a zone.”
With a contingent of 20 family members, and coach Gibson who also made the cut, in the gallery, Tabuena showed no fear despite his lack of experience and said he would go all-out to win the Philippine Open today.
The top Taiwanese of the tournament continues to be Lu Tze-shyan, who shot a six-over 78 on the day to plummet to a seven-way tie for 29th, while Chan Shih-chang was even par to sit one shot back of Lu on the leaderboard at six-over 222.
Lu Wei-chih shot a two-over 74 and Chan Yih-shin shot a 75 to sit at eight-over 224.
Rounding out the Taiwanese contingent, Kao Shang-hung shot a seven-over 79, Lin Wen-hong shot a 78 and Chang Tse-peng 79, while Wang Ter-chang shot an 82.
Additional reporting by staff writer