BACOLOD – Frankie Miñoza turned back the hands of time and outdueled young gun Miguel Tabuena in a riveting five-hole playoff yesterday in the ICTSI Negros Occidental Classic at the Negros Occidental Golf and Country Club here.
Miñoza, 56, whose last victory came three years ago, set up the win on the fifth extra hole with a wedge shot within four feet on the par-5, 18th.
After Tabuena flubbed his own birdie attempt from 15 feet, Miñoza calmly dropped the winning putt to become the oldest winner of the golf tour.
“I feel good and got inspired by my solid games in the first three days,” said Miñoza, whose 63 Friday vaulted him into a share of the third round lead with Tabuena and Dutch Guido Van der Valk.
Miñoza credited long-time buddy Artemio Murakami for his improved putting stroke.
“My putting also clicked after I got some tips from Temyong,” said Miñoza who collected the top purse of P270,000.
It was a phenomenal win for the legendary golfer whose last win came three years ago.
But it did not come easy.
Miñoza squandered a two-shot lead in the last three holes of regulation play, allowing the 21-year-old Tabuena to force a playoff.
The pride of Del Monte, Bukidnon bogeyed the par-3, 16th hole and watched Tabuena birdied the 17th from six feet as both protagonists walked to the 18th tee tied for the lead.
Miñoza had a chance to win the title outright, but his short birdie attempt on the 72ndhole grazed the cup.
Tabuena failed to capitalize on Miñoza’s errant tee shots in the playoffs, his birdie attempt from eight feet in the third extra hole failing to drop.
Each time Miñoza failed to find the fairway off the tee, he would come up with superb approaches to extend the playoff.
It was a heartbreaking loss for the Olympic-bound Tabuena who posted his only win this season at Anvaya Cove.
Van der Valk closed out with a 69 and shared third place with American Micah Shin, who shot a 68. They split the combined P190,000 purse.
Zanieboy Gialon rallied with a 67 to tie Orlan Sumcad, who made a 69, and Joenard Rates, who hobbled with a 72, at fifth at 271 while Justin Quiban fired a 67 to join halfway leader Clyde Mondilla, who had a 69, and Jay Bayron, who sputtered with a 72, at eighth at 272.
Antonio Lascuña, winner of the last three legs of the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc., finally found his rhythm and fired a 66 but still missed a top 10 finish, ending up tied at 11th at 272 with Richard Abaring and Jhonnel Ababa, who closed out with a 66 and 69, respectively, in the 10th leg of this year’s circuit backed by Custom Clubmakers, adidas, KZG, Summit Mineral Water, Srixon, Pacsports, TaylorMade, Sharp and Champion.