The Philippine Star

Paez marks birthday with big day in Del Monte


MANOLO Fortich, Bukidnon – American Nicolas Paez gifted himself a big birthday present yesterday – a maiden victory no less on the Philippine Golf Tour – as he captured the ICTSI Del Monte Championsh­ip by two on a closing three-under 69.

He outslugged Kim Joo Hyung and Tony Lascuña in a pressure-packed frontside duel then fended off a slew of rivals, including Lee Song and James Ryan Lam, at the finish to rule the P3 million championsh­ip at the Del Monte Golf Club.

Paez overcame erstwhile joint leaders Kim and Lascuña’s one-stroke edge with two birdies against a bogey at the front, including a lead-grabbing tap-in birdie on the ninth then hit three more birdies against another bogey at the back to thwart at least three other bidders for top honors in the P3 million event sponsored by ICTSI with a 10-under 278 total.

They included Lee, a joint leader in the first two days, who tied Paez at nine-under overall heading to the 72nd hole. But the young Korean bogeyed the par-5 18th for the second straight day in a flight ahead and finished with a 71.

Unmindful of Lee’s final-hole mishap, Paez still went for a birdie on the 18th and buried a sixfooter, his rivals and the pent-up emotions of a string of heart-break finishes on the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournament­s, Inc.

That included a joint runner-up finish at PGT Eagle Ridge last March and a so-so share of 15th place effort in last week’s Apo Invitation­al.

 ?? ERNIE PEÑARENDON­DO ?? Nicolas Paez poses with his trophy and birthday cake.
ERNIE PEÑARENDON­DO Nicolas Paez poses with his trophy and birthday cake.

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