Danao City, Cebu—Guido Van der Valk bucked tough pin placements and toughened up down the stretch, hitting a clutch birdie to salvage a 70, fend off a hot-charging David Gleeson and complete a wire-to-wire victory in the ICTSI Club Filipino de Cebu Invitational here yesterday.
With Gleeson sustaining his course record-setting third round rally and pulling to within one with five holes left in a flight ahead, Van der Valk kept his poise and birdied No. 14 from six feet to regain a two-shot cushion then parred the rest to save a 34-36 card and snap a 14-month spell with a 10-under 274 total for his second victory on the Philippine Golf Tour.
“I played solid and kind of anticipated the change in the position of the holes,” said Van der Valk, who anchored his romp with 66-65 in the first two rounds to post a six-stroke lead. Though he fumbled with a 73 Friday that enabled a slew of rivals to close in, the Dutchman bucked the pressure from Albin Engino and Michael Bibat with a birdie and a rash of pars in the first nine holes to stay in firm control.
“It’s always war whenever you’re on the (golf) course and I hit a lot of greens and it’s nice to win again,” said Van der Valk, who ended a string of sorry finishes in the circuit with a tough win at Eagle Ridge last year and banked the top P550,000 purse through a replica of the check he received from PGT executive director Narlene Soriano.
Gleeson, who fell by as many as 14 strokes after 36 holes but rallied to within four with a stirring 63 Friday, hit his third birdie in the final round on No. 13 to threaten within one and pulled to within a shot again with another birdie on No. 15.
But the Australian ace, who scored a breakthrough on the PGT Asia at Luisita last year, missed the 17th green in a frantic chase for another birdie and ended up with a bogey, finishing with a 68 for joint second with Michael Bibat, who shot a 69, at 276.
“I actually didn’t know that I got closer to him. I just stayed focused on my game,” said the 41-year-old Gleeson, who had aimed at completing a record comeback from 14 strokes but ran out of holes in the end.
Three shots off the Van der Valk after 54 holes, Bibat also moved within two with a birdie on the fifth but reeled back with a costly double-bogey mishap on the ninth. But the former Asian Games bronze medalist birdied three of the last nine holes to card a 69 and tie Gleeson at second. Each received P294,000.
Elmer Salvador shot a 70 to emerge the lone player to finish with under-par cards (68-70-69) in four days at the par-71 up-and-down layout but the veteran Davaoeño shotmaker settled for solo fourth at 277.
Jay Bayron also fought back late with four birdies in the last eight holes and finished with a 68 for solo fifth at 279 while Albin Engino, who battled back to within two with a third round 67, stayed in the hunt with a 35 but faded with two bogeys and a double-bogey against a birdie at the back, ending up with a 74 and falling to joint sixth at 278 with Richard Abaring, who carded a 70.
Joenard Rates fired a 68 to wind up eighth at 279 while Paul Echavez matched Bayron’s four-birdie binge at the back to finish with a 67 and salvage a share of ninth with Tony Lascuña, who floundered with a 72, and Justin Quiban, who lost four strokes in the last four holes and limped with a 75.
Jhonnel Ababa, who ruled the rain-shortened inaugurals of this event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. last year, failed to rebound from a disastrous 74 Friday, closing out with a 72 to end up joint 12th with Mars Pucay, who groped for a 73 in the event backed by Custom Clubmakers, Meralco, Champion, Summit Mineral Water, K&G Golf Apparel, BDO, Sharp, KZG, PLDT and M.Y. Shokai Technology, Inc.