Teenager Miguel Tabuena of the Philippines produced a gutsy comeback with a battling one-under-par 70 to share the halfway lead with in-form Thai veteran Thaworn Wiratchant at the Queen’s Cup in Koh Samui yesterday.
The 17-year-old Tabuena was three-over through six holes on a windswept day at the Santiburi Samui Country Club, before fighting back with four birdies on his inward nine for a two-day total five-under-par 137 in the US$300,000 Asian Tour event.
Thaworn, a former Asian Tour No. 1 with 12 career wins, produced an impressive 67 to give himself a chance of tying countryman Thongchai Jaidee’s record 13 Asian Tour victories.
A solid 68 put Bangladeshi Siddikur, whose career-first top-10 was achieved two years ago in Samui, in third place, one back, while India’s Anirban Lahiri, bound for The Open next month, was a further stroke behind.
Reigning Asian Tour No. 1 Juvic Pagunsan of the Philippines fired the day’s best of 65, thanks to an eagle at the last, to jump into contention on 140 alongside Thai duo Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Panuphol Pittayarat.
Tabuena, the co-overnight leader, was delighted to fight back from his tough start, he said.
“I just kept telling myself to hang on as anything can happen. It’s not easy to win and you’ve just got to grind,” he said.
He spectacularly chipped in for birdie on 11 before producing a grandstand finish. A 20-foot conversion on 15 was followed by a six-foot birdie at the next hole.
He then stuck a chip to two feet at the last, to give himself a chance at winning a maiden Asian Tour victory.
“I didn’t notice those three birdies at the end as when you’re in the zone, you’re just having fun,” said a smiling Tabuena, who is in his second year as a professional.