Miguel Tabuena and Angelo Que secured commanding victories, setting the stage for an eagerly anticipated quarterfinal showdown in the ICTSI The Country Club Match Play Invitational.
The tournament has been witnessing the resurgence of a former ace returning after a two-year hiatus.
Tabuena, who breezed past fellow Asian Tour campaigner Lloyd Go with a 3&2 victory in the first round, dominated Rupert Zaragosa with a 6&5 romp, winning four of the first eight holes. This set up a Last 8 clash against fellow former Philippine Open champion Angelo Que at 7:34 a.m.
Que, a three-time Asian Tour titlist, displayed formidable form by defeating Ira Alido 6&4 and routing Minseong Kim 7&5 in the knockout matches. Despite their numerous encounters in stroke play competitions, this marks their first face-off in match play, promising an engaging contest of strategic play.
“I’m excited to play with Angelo tomorrow, I haven’t played with him in a while, so it should be good fun,” said Tabuena, who tied for ninth in last Sunday’s Indonesian Masters. “I’m sure we will have a good time on the course.”
Elmer Salvador continued his impressive run by beating Valley leg runaway winner and third seed Reymon Jaraula 4&3. Salvador faces a tough challenge against Dutch and reigning back-to-back TCC Invitational winner Guido van der Valk, who repulsed Fidel Concepcion 2&1. They clash at 7:18 a.m.
Tony Lascuña trampled Zanieboy Gialon 4&2 to set up a clash with Marvin Dumandan. Dumandan secured victory on the 19th hole for the second consecutive day, fighting back from one down after 17 holes.
Top seed and this year’s OOM titlist Jhonnel Ababa dominated Albin Engino with a 5&3 rout to arrange a showdown with Quiban, who posted the same scoreline against Korean Hyun Ho Rho.
“With this course, you have to keep everything in play because the roughs and bunkers are always in play. Here a par game wins,” said Quiban. Against Ababa in their 7:26 a.m. encounter, the South Pacific leg winner said, “I have to take advantage of the long holes. I’ve been hitting my drives and irons pretty well, so hopefully, make more putts.”
Tabuena, Que, and Quiban continue to navigate the rigors of the Asian Tour, and the surviving field will be tested in Friday’s quarterfinal clashes in morning play, with the winners disputing the final berths starting at 12 noon.
“On the road for the last three weeks, and I was 50-50 if I would play this week. But match play is not as tiring as the four-day (stroke-play) competition,” said Tabuena, who is also using this week’s event as part of his buildup for next month’s LIV Golf qualifying in Abu Dhabi.
“I see this week as practice, a week that I can win and something to try different stuff with my game,” he added. “I’m very confident in my game right now. But in match play, you’re not playing much against the course but against one person. Anyone can win, so different strategies, different ways to approach your shots.”
The 2017 TCC Invitational champion stressed the need to stay aggressive, saying: “I know this course very well; I’ve won here a couple of times, so I definitely have an edge.”
Que, a three-time champion at TCC Invitational, has also been playing solidly in the first two rounds, guaranteeing a furious battle of power and styles between two of the country’s leading players.