Iloilo—Jobim Carlos bucked putting woes with clutch pars in the last two holes, averting a final round meltdown and clinching a two-stroke victory over Tim Stewart despite a closing two-over 70 in the ICTSI Iloilo Golf Challenge here yesterday.
What was expected to be a cruise turned out to be a thriller of a finish as Carlos lost his touch on the tricky Iloilo Golf and Country Club surface midway through the last 18 holes, enabling Guido Van der Valk and Stewart to pull within one four flights ahead heading to the stretch.
But the Dutchman faded with back-to-back bogeys from No. 12 and the power-hitting Aussie, who led in the first round of the P3 million event sponsored by ICTSI, flubbed a six-footer for par on the 17th and blew his bid for a playoff, paving the way for Carlos’ triumph on a 272 total.
“It’s better to survive and win,” said Carlos, after pocketing another P550,000 for his third triumph in the last two-and-a-half months. He scored a breakthrough at Philippine Golf Tour Asia Riviera leg and dominated the Apo stop of the PGT Mindanao swing, both last June. He also turned in a couple of runner-up finishes and two top-six efforts with his latest victory firming up his hold of the Order of Merit lead heading to last two tournaments of the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Stewart wound up with a 68 and settled for second at 274 worth P370,000 while American Lexus Keoninh rallied with a 67 and tied Rene Menor and Van der Valk, who carded identical 69s, at 275. Each received P170,000.
Ranged against the hottest player on the tour, Joenard Rates and Jhonnel Abab flinched with the former also fumbling with a 72 and latter limping with a 73 to drop to joint sixth at 276 with Reymon Jaraula and Justin Quiban, who fought back with 66 and 68, respectively.
Clyde Mondilla turned in a third straight 70 and wound up 10th at 278.
“I played cautiously in the last six holes to avert going into playoff again,” said Carlos, referring to his loss to ace Juvic Pagunsan in Negros last week, a setback that only toughened up the young rising star. He went three-up over Ababa, four ahead of Rates and six ahead of Stewart and Van der Valk after a course-record setting 62 Friday.
He actually held sway and put away the challenge of Ababa and Rates with a two-under card after seven holes but lost his putting touch and bogeyed the next and dropped two strokes on No. 9.
Failing to check his stroke, the 25-year-old Carlos bogeyed the 10th, putting Stewart and Van der Valk back within two after starting the round six strokes behind.
Van der Valk, winner of the PGT kickoff leg at Eagle Ridge last March, threatened to within one first with a birdie on No. 11 but faded just as quickly with bogeys in the next two while Stewart closed to within one on a birdie on No. 13 coupled with Carlos’ bogey a few minutes later.
Carlos went 2-up again with a birdie on No. 15 but allowed Stewart to lurk again with a three-putt miscue on the 16th.
“I tried the best that I could but the lead was too big to overcome,” said Stewart, whose runner-up effort bettered his fourth-place finish in the Manila Southwoods leg of the PGT Asia backed by BDO, KZG, Custom Clubmakers, Meralco, Sharp, Champion, Summit Mineral Water and PLDT last June.
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