Miguel Tabuena is back in action on the Asian Tour this week, at the Shinhan Donghae Open, played on the Ocean Course at Club72 in Korea, for what should be an excellent opportunity to close the gap on the Tour’s Order of Merit leader Andy Ogletree from the United States – who is not competing this week.
However, a persistent wrist injury, which forced him to withdraw from the most recent event, the St Andrews Bay Championship in Scotland two weeks ago, is threatening to derail his push for the top.
Tabuena is in second place on the Merit list, just under 700 points behind Ogletree, but the only golf he has played since Scotland was nine holes on Sunday at home in Manila.
“It was throbbing [on Sunday] but I had already booked my flight here,” said the Filipino, a three-time winner on the Asian Tour.
“It’s my left wrist and my thumb, actually. I have no idea what caused it, I have been fighting it for two months now.”
He finished in a tie for ninth at the International Series England, the week before Scotland, but started feeling pain in the final round. He rested it on the following Tuesday and Wednesday but with the cold weather in Scotland doing nothing to heal the wrist he decided to pull out.
He added: “It is such a shame, man, because I am playing really well, and this is probably a good week to close the gap, because Andy is not here. That’s the only reason why I am here.”
The pain is particularly heightened on his downswing right before impact, when using his driver.
“Luckily there are many other events for the remainder of the season to try and get to the top of the Merit list. I requested for an x-ray and MRI when I got home just to see what’s happening. I rested it from the week of Scotland all the way until Saturday.
“I had ‘cryo’ and ultra-sound treatment at home, and laser. I submerged it in ice, almost everyday since I got back from Scotland.
“I don’t want to be on painkillers for the rest of the year, but let’s see how tomorrow goes. It’s nice to have a late tee off tomorrow. And it’s nice that the weather is on my side, being really warm. All I can do is not force it.”
Tabuena, 28, had been enjoying a fine return to form this year having won The DGC Open presented by Mastercard in March – his first win on the Asian Tour in four years – and has finished in the top-10 on five occasions. He was also equal fourth in the World City Championship in Hong Kong, and up until Scotland had not missed a cut in nine starts.
It has been a complete turnaround from last year when he who only just kept his Tour card on the Order of Merit, taking the last spot, while having to deal with the trauma of his father having a heart by-pass.
And while the warm weather is to his advantage this week, he feels the course is user friendly.
He said: “I have played this course a long time ago, when I just turned pro, and it’s very straight forward, it’s not the tightest.”
He tees-off at 11.50am local time tomorrow with Korean Seonghyeon Kim and Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa.
This week marks the third time the tournament will be tri-sanctioned between the Asian Tour, Japan Golf Tour, and Korean Tour.
The KRW1.4 billion (about US$1 million) event is the 14th tournament of the season on the Asian Tour.