Canadian crowned Solaire Open champ

By Abac Cordero, The Philippine Star

Posted at Mar 17 2014 08:46 AM | Updated as of Mar 17 2014 04:46 PM

CANLUBANG , Philippines – Angelo Que lost the tournament right on the second hole yesterday and Miguel Tabuena couldn’t sustain his title run in the second Solaire Open here.

In the end, it was a 23-year-old Canadian named Richard Lee who hoisted the small glass trophy and the winner’s check worth $54,000 at The Country Club.

Que started the day as the solo leader, one up on Tabuena and four strokes ahead of Lee and three others thinking they still had chance at the title.

All seemed perfect especially after Que birdied the opening hole. Then in the second, a 614-yard par-5 hole, tragedy struck the Filipino ace

His drive, a three-wood, went out of bounds to the left. Then again, he went out of bounds, and then again, the third time using his driver.

Que wound up with a horrendous 12 on that hole, and in the blink of an eye, he lost the lead. He was gone with the wind.

“That’s golf,” said Que, who finished the round with an 82 for a 286 total and a share of 21st place, nine strokes off the winner.

Que looked back at the tournament.

“Three good days and three bad shots on the final day,” he said in Filipino.

“Lesson learned. My wife Tracy said it (12) was a typo (error). How I wish. It was my worst round in a local tour. And the last time I hit 80 in the Asian Tour was like six years ago,” he added.

Lee said he got up in the morning four behind Que, and still thinking he could win the title.

“I had the thought. But I knew I had to play my best or at least play the way I did the first three days,” said Lee, who looks Korean and talks Korean.

He closed out with a two-under-par 69 and with his previous rounds 68-70-70 he had a 277 total, and a one-stroke win over Thai Chawalit Plaphol, who had a 70.

Lee, who competed in the 2007 US Open as an amateur, tapped in for par at the 18th hole. It was all he needed to secure his first title on the Asian Tour.

As he walked off the green, he faced the TV camera then and said, “Hi Mom, Dad.”

Lee said his parents are in Canada, and since it was around 3 a.m. there by the time he nailed the title, he had to wait a couple more hours before making the call.

“I’m sure they will be very happy,” said Lee, whose father, Hyung-Chull Lee, is an ex-pro.

That’s what got him to play golf, adding that when he was three he started hitting plastic balls, and by the time he was five or six he was out on the golf course.

“My father was a good player. Even when I was 10 he was still shooting four-under, but that was also the first time I beat him, when I was 10,” said the new Solaire Open champion.

“This feels great – my first win, the first tournament of the year. It’s exactly what I wanted,” said Lee, who double-bogeyed No. 4, birdied 8, 9 and 10 and then the 12th.

“When I made birdie on 12, I started thinking if I make one more birdie I can make it happen. Then on the 15th (came) the solid birdie putt. That really made it happen for me,” he added.

Carlos Pigem of Spain was all alone at third after a 69 for 279. Tied for fourth at 280 were Japan’s Masahiro Kawamura (65), England’s Stephen Lewton (67) and American Paul Peterson (69).

Up next at 281 for a tie for seventh were Australian Andrew Dodt (70), Clyde Mondilla (73) and Tabuena, the 19-year-old future star of Philippine golf.

Tabuena, searching his first Asian Tour title, lost grip of his game and bogeyed six of the first eight holes, including four in a row.

He double-bogeyed the 11th, a par-3, and shook his head in disbelief as he walked toward the 12th mound. But he managed a strong finish, birdying three of the last five holes.

Tabuena saved par from around 12 feet at the 18th, let out a big yell, and drew a mild applause from the crowd.

Tabuena pocketed $7,440 while Que will drive home with $3,115.

“We will try our luck in the Malaysian Open in April,” said Que’s swing coach, Bong Lopez, as he left The Country Club.

Lopez couldn’t believe what happened at No. 2 but like Que, he took everything in stride.

“Yung unang OB (out-of-bounds) disgrasya (The first OB was an accident),” he said. “But the second and third, I can’t explain it. Kung baga sa boxing, second round pa lang hilo ka na).”

After the disastrous hole, Que bogeyed Nos. 3, 5 and 9 then had two birdies and two more bogeys until the 16th. At the par-3 17th he four-putted for double-bogey.

As Que walked down the 18th fairway, his pregnant wife, Tracy, waited just outside the green, leaning on a golf cart.

After holing out for par, Que walked up to his wife and gave her a big kiss. Together they smiled.

That’s golf.