Filipino Miguel Tabuena admits the moment got the better of him after flirting with the Lake Karrinyup course record on his way to a stunning 7-under round of 65 to open the ISPS HANDA World Super 6 Perth tournament.
The first group off the 10th tee at 6.40am, Tabuena rattled off an incredible seven consecutive birdies and added a ninth on the par-4 18th to make the turn in just 28 shots and an early five-shot buffer.
A ninth birdie in 10 holes made James Morrison’s 2014 course record 9-under 63 seem little more than a formality but bogeys at the par-3 5th and his final hole, the par-4 ninth kept the record at bay as he and Norwegian Kristoffer Reitan posted the pick of the morning scores.
Making the turn at 2-under, Reitan followed Tabuena’s lead by plundering birdies on the back nine, picking up shots at 13, 14, 16 and 18 to join the early pace-setter at the top of the leaderboard.
Greeted by idyllic conditions, Newcastle’s Nick Flanagan was the pick of the Aussies on Thursday morning, building on his top-10 finish at last week’s Vic Open with an opening round of 4-under 68.
A silver medallist at the Asian Games in 2010 at just 16 years of age, Tabuena has won twice on the Asian Tour – most recently at the Queen’s Cup in Thailand in December – and boasts a career best round of 10-under 62 at his home course in the Philippines.
The building crowd was on ’59 watch’ shortly after he made the turn and as the TV cameras clamoured around him to capture history in the making the 24-year-old admitted to forcing shots late in his round that prevented him from going even lower.
“I just got ahead of myself the last few holes,” Tabuena said post-round.
“I tried to keep (the score) in the back of my mind but it caught up to me on the third and fourth holes.
“I’m not going to lie, I started to force shots that I wasn’t comfortable with.
“I started to go at pins that I shouldn’t have and the bogey on the par-3 cost me.”
After an audacious shot at a pin on the par-4 fourth that Lake Karrinyup members said they had never seen so far right, Tabuena’s first bogey came when his tee shot at the par-3 fifth landed in the right-side bunker.
Short-sided, Tabuena’s bunker shot failed to progress past the fringe and he two-putted down the slope to make four.
“It wasn’t great at all,” Tabuena said of his lie in the bunker.
“It was on the downslope and someone didn’t rake it properly. It is what it is.”
Somewhat lost amidst Tabuena’s Lake Karrinyup assault were the performances of his playing partners, India’s SSP Chawrasia and Victorian Terry Pilkadaris.
Chawrasia’s 4-under 68 put him in a tie for fourth while Pilkadaris sat just outside the top-10 with a 2-under 70, Pilkadaris in awe of Tabuena’s birdie barrage.
“You just try and make sure to not get in his way really,” Pilkadaris said.
“He holed a couple of 10 and 15-footers for birdie and then hit a couple of close and then next thing you know he’s nine (under) through 10 and doing it easy.
“We were grilling him about what he had for breakfast. It was great to watch.”
“Every hole he make birdie, birdie, birdie, the first six or seven holes,” said Chawrasia. “He made birdie again (at 18) and birdie again the first hole. So, you know, 9-under after 10 holes, I never seen before.”
So, what was the magic formula for such an astonishing start?
“I just had whatever was in the player’s lounge,” Tabuena said matter-of-factly.
“I had a hash brown, sausages, two eggs and a bagel.
“Same again tomorrow, and same dinner again tonight!”
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