MANILA — Steve Lewton pulled off a nail-biting win by edging Johannes Veerman in a sudden death with a par on the finishing hole at The Country Club to capture the coveted title in the 99th Solaire Philippine Open held Sunday in Santa Rosa, Laguna.
“I’m very, very happy for my victory. This is my first here and I will never forget it. This is memorable,” said Lewton, who also became the first Englishman to win the fabled championship, Asia’s oldest National Open.
“I didn’t expect to win because I am not familiar with the course. I just played my game and luckily made it,” added Lewton, who turned in an impressive 70 and two 71s to lead in the middle rounds of the USD400,000 event sponsored by Solaire Resort and Casino.
Veerman, who rallied from two down to force a playoff at one-under 287, took the runner up USD72,000 purse in the event held in cooperation with Meralco and PLDT.
Thai Rattanon Wannasrichan, three down at the start of the final round and missed joining the playoff by one, settled for third with a 288 and USD25,000.
American Blake Snyder matched par 72 for the second straight time and took solo fourth at 291 while Miguel Tabuena bounced back with an eagle on No. 10 but bogeyed No. 16 and holed out with a double-bogey for a 74 to end up tied with three others for the fifth to eight places.
Tabuena, The 2015 winner in the rain-shortened Open at Luisita. finished tied for fifth at 292 with American Brett Munson, who also made a 74, Singapore’s Mitchell Slorach, who carded a 73, and Thai Suradit Yongcharoenchai, who also shot a 73.
Nicolas Paes, also of the US, turned in a 72 for ninth at 293 while Japanese Toru Nakajima ended up 10th at 294 after a 72.
Four behind Lewton after 54 holes, Tony Lascuña, the other Filipino hopeful, birdied the opening hole from close range but that was the best the reigning Philippine Golf Tour Order of Merit champion could offer as he stumbled with bogeys – eight – in the next 17 holes, including six at the back, as he limped home with a 79 and ended up at joint 11th at 295 with Thai Poom Saksansin, who carded a 74.
Angelo Que, winner of the Open in 2008 at Wack Wack, struggled with a 77 and wound up tied with Thais Chinnarat Phadungsil and Namchok Tantipokhakul, who shot 74 and 76, respectively, at 21st in the event backed by Pioneer Insurance, Lexus, BDO, Sharp, Custom Clubmaker, KZG, Empire Golf and Titleist. Primo Agatep/PNA-northboundasia.com