TARLAC – Justin Quiban played pressure-free this time and won his first title by ruling the CAT (Central Azucarera de Tarlac) Open yesterday at the Luisita Golf and Country Club here.
Not even two bogeys in the last four holes for a closing 72 could spoil the 21-year-old shotmaker’s claim at the coveted Philippine Golf Tour Asia title, banking on the five-shot cushion he had built through awesome driving, iron play and putting in the first 54 holes spiked by 66 and 67 in the middle rounds.
His title win here made up for two final round folds-up in the past.
He parred the first 11 holes and remained four-up over Joenard Rates, then birdied Nos. 12 and 14 for good measure and still won by three despite dropping shots on Nos. 15 and 18 for a pair of 36s and a 275.
“I am lost for words,” said Quiban, who pocketed $17,500. “I did not expect to win this year and actually gave myself another year or two before breaking through.”
He flubbed at least seven birdie putts in the first 11 holes, enabling the rest, including Rates, to stay in the hunt.
“When I saw the leaderboard, I told myself to keep up with them, I need to knock down birdies,” added Quiban, who tapped in on No. 12 and rolled in a 15-footer on the 14th to settle the issue.
The diminutive Rates fought back from six down to within three after No. 16 but ran out of holes, settling for a 69 and a 278. He received $11,500.
True to his vow of a strong final round start, Clyde Mondilla birdied the opening hole but the reigning Philippine Golf Tour Order of Merit champion went on a roller-coaster ride, hitting three more birdies but stumbling with the same number of bogeys. He wound up with a 71 for a 279, ending up tied at third with Jay Bayron, who rallied with a 66, and Jhonnel Ababa and Swede Oskar Arvidsson, who both carded 69s.