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PGT: Justin Quiban powers way to top of South Pacific Classic

Justin Quiban seized the opportunity when Marvin Dumandan missed a crucial birdie putt from close range on the 72nd hole.

Quiban then endured an additional four-hole battle of power and wits to clinch the fiercely-contested ICTSI South Pacific Classic crown in Davao City on Friday.

Expressing his growing unease with the unresolved outcome after numerous returns to the 337-yard No. 9, Quiban attacked it with determination in their last two trips. The final trip resulted in a two-putt birdie, concluding the protracted duel that was triggered by Dumandan’s unfortunate miss on No. 18, where he failed to make a birdie putt from five feet away.

Dumandan missed the opportunity to extend the match further with a miss from a longer distance.

In their first three returns to No. 9, they matched pars after exchanging a couple of missed birdie attempts. Quiban opted for his trusted Ping driver in the last two attempts, although the first led to a three-putt par.

However, on his next attempt to eagle, Quiban confidently struck the ball close to the hole and made the crucial putt. This occurred on a day marked by drizzle that ended under the scorching heat, which had been the prevailing condition in the first three days of the P2 million championship sponsored by ICTSI.

“My strategy in the playoff was to play No. 9 as I had done throughout the week: lay up with the 4-iron and try to get it as close as I can for a birdie,” said Quiban, who closed out with a 69, tying with Dumandan, who carded a 70, at 279. “But after we failed to make birdies, I decided to use my driver because it’s been my eighth straight week of playing, and I wanted this to end. No guts, no glory.”

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“Unfortunately, I made a three-putt par on the third playoff hole, but then on the last one, I hit the green again and two-putted for birdie to secure the victory,” said Quiban, who received P360,000 for his achievement. He had also competed in the Asian Development Tour in Vietnam three weeks ago and in last week’s PGT Del Monte Championship.

Quiban shook his head in disbelief after missing a six-foot uphill birdie attempt on the 72nd hole. However, he received a reprieve as Dumandan missed a chance to win it in regulation. The day was filled with drama on the long championship layout with tricky greens that witnessed stunning birdie runs and rueful collapses, including one by Gen Nagai.

In a duel between aces seeking to end their long title droughts, Quiban emerged victorious, five years after he secured a breakthrough five-shot victory over Jay Bayron in Binitin, Negros Occidental. He had also defeated Joenard Rates by three strokes to win the PGT Asian Central Azucarera de Tarlac trophy in late 2017.

It was a disappointing setback for Dumandan, who had hit a brilliant approach shot within 5 feet on the par-5 18th, reigniting his bid to end a 14-year title drought. Joint frontrunner Quiban, who was tied with him at nine-under overall heading to the 72nd hole, missed a six-foot uphill birdie putt.

However, Dumandan’s championship putt from five feet veered to the right at the last moment, disappointing both him and the hometown crowd. This led to a sudden-death playoff, marking the first time a title had been disputed over 72 holes in the nine legs of this year’s circuit sponsored by ICTSI and supported by Kampfortis Golf, the official apparel of the organizing Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.

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Dumandan settled for the P236,000 prize.

Dumandan, sporting a neon green shirt, threatened to pull away with a four-under score after 10 holes. However, the local ace, who last won in 2009 at Apo, faltered as the pressure mounted on the back nine, surrendering crucial strokes on Nos. 11 and 13 and missing the winning putt on the 18th.

In a flight ahead of the championship group, Cebu-based Japanese player Nagai forced a three-way tie at nine-under with a fourth consecutive birdie on the par-5 12th. However, he fell short on his approach on the 18th, putting aggressively and sending the ball veering to the left near the fringe. He then missed a six-footer, resulting in a three-putt bogey for a 69.

This meant he missed joining Dumandan and Quiban in the playoff with a total score of 280, earning him solo third place and a prize of P136,000. It was his best performance in three PGT stints, following a joint 25th finish at Luisita and a tie for 18th at Valley.

Sean Ramos shot the best round of the day with a 67, tying Keanu Jahns, who carded a 69, for fourth place at 281. Last year’s winner, Tony Lascuña, finished sixth at 282 after a 70, while Dutch player Guido van der Valk sizzled with a 68 to join Lloyd Go, Elmer Salvador, and Forest Hills and Del Monte legs winner Clyde Mondilla at seventh place with a score of 285.

Go had a blazing start with five birdies in the first 10 holes but dropped a shot on No. 11 and double-bogeyed the 17th to fall from joint sixth. Salvador also struggled, wasting a front-nine 33 with three back-nine bogeys for a 72, while Mondilla scored four birdies but made three bogeys and a double bogey, finishing with a 73.

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Ronnel Tagaan shot his third 73 in four days and tied for 20th place with Ferdie Aunzo, who struggled with a 76, at 291. Tagaan took home the low amateur honors.

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