Australia's Both turns from quitter to winner

By Abac Cordero, The Philippine Star

Posted at May 19 2014 07:18 PM | Updated as of May 20 2014 08:30 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Last year was a very rough year for Australia’s Marcus Both that he missed the cut 10 times and had a Top 10 finish only once. He lost his Asian Tour card and thought about quitting.

With some remarkable shots, all his fortunes changed yesterday.

“To think about quitting the game that’s how bad it was last year,” the 34-year-old Australian told scribes yesterday afternoon at Wack Wack.

He just won the ICTSI Philippine Open title with a closing round of 70 and a 282 and bagged the top prize of $54,000 in the event sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc. and presented by the MVP Sports Foundation and PLDT.

“It’s just overwhelming. I don’t know what to say. It was a very hard year last year. This is an emotional day for me,” said Both just after signing his scorecard.

“It’s just amazing fulfilling one of your wildest dreams,” added Both, who smiled as he spoke.

“Why wouldn’t I be?” he said.

It was the third Asian Tour title for the native of Melbourne counting his victories in the 2003 Sanya Open in China and the 2009 Johnnie Walker Cambodia Open.

The victory at Wack Wack was his first on Philippine soil after perhaps a dozen tries since 2004. Both is hoping that it won’t be the last here or anywhere else.

“I’m hoping it’s not,” said Both, the first Australian to win the coveted Philippine Open since Adam Le Vesconte ruled in 2005 in Malarayat.

Both, who is married to golf, was tied for second with Filipino Jay Bayron and Korean Wang Jeung-hun at the start of the bright and sunny day.

They were one stroke behind the long-hitting Chan Kim of the United States after the third round. The Philippine Open crown was up for grabs.

Chan, who mesmerized the crowd with his long drives, couldn’t sink his putts unless they were just inches away. He bogeyed the first hole and lost the lead.

Chan, only 24, triple-bogeyed No. 18 and ended up tied for 10th with a 76 and a 287 total. As planned, he layed up on the par-3 No. 8 but still ended up bogeying the treacherous hole.

“Maybe next year I will get the win,” said Chan, who last Friday overshot the green on the 258-yard par-3 No. 7 with a three-iron.

With Chan fading, Antonio Lascuña, now the hottest Filipino on the Asian Tour, made a charge as well as Siddikur Rahman of Bangladesh and Nathan Holman of Australia.

After hole No. 7, Lascuña was already tied for the lead with Both. He was right on with a chance to win but was stymied with a double bogey on No. 12.

Lascuña birdied the next two holes. But by this time, Both had gotten his confidence going, especially when he sank a 20-foot birdie putt on the 15th.

On the 210-yard No. 16, a par-3, Both pulled out a four-iron and hit the shot that won it for him. His ball landed just three feet to the right of the hole, and he took the birdie.

Both moved three shots ahead of Lascuña, who even bogeyed the 18th, to land into a five-way tie for second at 284 with Rahman, Hokman, Arnond Vongvanij of Thailand and Jay Bayron of the Philippines.

They pocketed $17,838 each. If not for his bogey on No. 18, where his second shot landed on the right greenside bunker, he was good for solo second worth $33,000.

Bayron had something going on the final day but he should be happy with his finish.