MANILA, Philippines -- Artemio Murakami hopes to snap out of a year-long slump as he heads the compact field in the ICTSI Canlubang Golf Invitational which gets going Nov. 14 at Cangolf’s north course in Canlubang, Laguna.
Murakami essayed a whopping eight-stroke romp in ruling the P1 million event last year but his game took a downswing this season, turning in so-so finishes on the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour and on the Asian Tour.
He will be coming into the 54-hole event trying to atone for a joint 34th finish in the ICTSI Calatagan Challenge topped by Mhark Fernando two weeks while hoping to re-display the form he showed in routing the field last year.
Murakami fired a course-record eight-under 64 in the first round and went on a cruise the next two rounds to pocket the Cangolf leg crown, only to lose his form this season where he stood way down in 50th in the Order of Merit ranking with two legs left in the 15-stage circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Fernando, meanwhile, is upbeat of his chances for a back-to-back title romp after beating Rufino Bayron by five at Calatagan. Like the Batangas layout, the former national titlist also calls Canlubang his home where he, along with Jhonnel Ababa and Jerson Balasabas, honed his skills and talent during their amateur days.
Murakami, Fernando, Ababa and the other leading pros test the par-72 layout on Tuesday (Nov. 13) as they lead the cast in the traditional pro-am tournament along with officials and guests of the event’s chief backers, including Empire Golf, Titleist, Footjoy, Callaway, TaylorMade, Mizuno, Srixon, Nike Golf, Custom Clubmakers and Sharp.
Also tipped to contend for the top P200,000 purse in the event, sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc., are Jun Bernis, Cassius Casas, Ferdie Aunzo, Marvin Dumandan, Anthony Fernando, Zanie Boy Gialoin, Clyde Mondilla, Richard Sinfuego and Carito Villaroman.
The ICTSI PGT, meanwhile, winds up on December 17-22 for a P2.5 million ICTSI Wack Wack Championship, which offers a top purse of P450,000.