Golf: Ababa rides late surge to claim ICTSI PH Masters crown


Posted at May 28 2023 05:33 PM

Filipino golfer Jhonnel Ababa. Pilipinas Golf/Handout.
Filipino golfer Jhonnel Ababa. Pilipinas Golf/Handout.

MANILA -- Jhonnel Ababa hit three key birdies late and bucked a late slip to snatch the ICTSI Villamor Philippine Masters crown at the Villamor Golf Club on Saturday.

Ababa finished with a 71 to edge Guido van der Valk and Joenard Rates by one stroke. He had rattled off three birdies in a four-hole stretch to go up by three over the erstwhile co-leaders, but a double bogey paved the way for a thrilling finish in the P2.5 million championship.

Unfortunately for van der Valk and Rates, they flubbed their birdie bids on the 72nd hole and matched 74s, enabling Ababa to hoist the highly-contested trophy with a four-day total of three-under 285 worth P450,000.

“Despite trailing most of the way, I knew I had a chance. I told myself that I needed just two birdies at the back to gain a shot (at the crown). Eh, naka-tatlo pa,” said Ababa, who thus became the third player to win the Masters crown since the fabled event was revived in 2017.

Van der Valk, who missed the cut at Luisita, and Rates split the combined P465,000 second and third place prizes after posting identical 286s, while Keanu Jahns also carded a 71 for solo fourth at 287.

Reymon Jaraula matched par-72 for the second straight day and ended up fifth at 288 while Korean Min Seong Kim rallied with the day’s best 68 to clinch sixth place at 289 followed by Nilo Salahog and Fidel Concepcion, who tied for seventh at 290 after a 73 and 74, respectively.

Young Korean Hyun Ho Rho also charged home with a 69 for ninth at 291 while Marvin Dumandan, tied with Ababa after third after 54 holes, hobbled in a rare championship flight stint, limping with a 78 and tumbling to 10th at 292.

Gary Sales took low amateur honors despite a 78 as he tied for 16th with Balasabas, who shot a 72, with 296.

In the end, it was Ababa who came out on top while snapping a long spell marred by endgame meltdowns, including at the Pradera Verde Championship last year which he led in the third round, only to waver at the finish and lose by one to van der Valk.