Filipino Miguel Tabuena fired an inspired seven-under-par 65 to win The DGC Open presented by Mastercard at Delhi Golf Club today and claim his first title on the Asian Tour in just over four years.
The 28 year old, six behind overnight leader Rashid Khan from India at the start of the day, confidently glided around DGC’s challenging Lodhi Course shooting seven birdies and no bogeys to finish on 12 under and beat Khan by one.
Khan, himself chasing a first Asian Tour victory in nine years, closed with a 72, while Thailand’s Chapchai Nirat finished one shot back to claim third place outright with a 68.
Tabuena, playing in the penultimate group, gradually reeled Khan, who started the day with a three-shot lead over countryman Chikkarangappa S, in and was four behind him at the turn, thanks to three birdies, before a brilliant back nine saw him catch and overtake the Indian.
The Filipino birdied 10, 12, 15 and 16 while Khan dropped shots on 15 and 17, where he had a bad lie in a greenside trap on the par three and failed to get up and down. Khan needed an eagle on the par-five 18th to draw level, but his approach just missed the green from where he chipped to four feet and made a four.
A one hour and 20 minute delay caused by inclement weather while Khan was playing the 14th did little to help the India’s chances, while Tabuena’s round was one short of the course record.
“I feel great,” said Tabuena, who becomes only the second player from his country to win in India after his legendary compatriot Ben Arda’s success in the Indian Open in 1969.
“I have been playing well, very well for the past few months and I really believed that another win was coming very soon. I told myself to just stick to the game plan, you have been playing awesome the first few days.”
The win completes something of a comeback for Tabuena who only just kept his Tour card on the Order of Merit in 2022 taking the last spot and who had to deal with the trauma of his father having a heart by-pass last year.
He first tasted victory on the Asian Tour at the Philippine Open in 2015 before his second win at the Queen’s Cup at the end of 2018.
“It is very, very easy to get too aggressive at Delhi Golf Club and I was very, very happy with how we stuck mentally to our game plan,” he added.
“I executed each shot the way I wanted to. It is hard to describe, it is great to be back in the winner’s circle and I really believe there is way more room for improvement still.
“To be honest bogey free Delhi Golf Club on a Sunday is probably the best feeling in the world. As soon as I got my scorecard I thought ‘did I really just shoot seven under in Delhi Golf Club at one of the hardest courses we play on the Asian Tour?’ I shot one of the best rounds of my career on a Sunday. I didn’t force any shots, even though it was very easy to. I am pretty overwhelmed, I am pretty tired physically and mentally also.”
Khan will be bitterly disappointed not to have prevailed today. Since winning the SAIL-SBI Open at DGC in 2014 he has now finished second on five occasions here. He was also second twice on the Asian Tour last year, suggesting his time for another victory will surely come soon.
“I wasn’t hitting it well at all and the worst part was that this is the first time in my life where I couldn’t hit hard,” he said.
“I wasn’t able to swing it well. I have a problem in my swing which I’m working on, and I played this week only on my putter, that’s it. And I just didn’t hole my putts today.
“On the 17th, I had to go for it. I was trying to hit my eight iron and I thinned it again and ended up making a bogey. So, you know when you are two shots back and going into the last hole, that’s different.
“If I had gone aggressive today, the score could have been even worse. During the break, I went to the range and was hitting it well but on the golf course it was a different story. I am taking an off next week.”
The Asian Tour journeys to the World City Championship at the Hong Kong Golf Club next week from March 23-26.
*Credit information to www.asiantour.com