MANILA, Philippines -- The P1-million ICTSI Cangolf Invitational gets going Wednesday with Artemio Murakami shooting for a repeat at Cangolf’s north course and Frankie Minoza and Jay Bayron seeking a follow-up to their recent victories abroad.
With leg winners Mhark Fernando, Carl Santos-Ocampo, Charles Hong, Zanie Boy Gialon and Marvin Dumandan also going all out for another crown, the battle for top honors is expected to be fierce in the 54-hole event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Murakami shot a record 64 in the first round then went on to post an eight-shot romp last year but the former national champion and Asian Tour campaigner went on a slump this season, falling to as low as 50th in the Order of Merit ranking with so-so finishes.
Heading to the penultimate leg of the 15-stage circuit sponsored by ICTSI, however, Murakami is upbeat of his chances, confident of re-displaying the form that netted him a runaway triumph last year.
But he will be facing a field raring to fuel their respective title bids with Minoza coming off a big win in the Japan Seniors Open and Bayron topping the PGM-Eastwood Valley Masters in Malaysia two weeks ago, his second on the Asian Development Tour this year that gave him the ADT OOM lead and a card in next year’s Asian Tour.
Focus will also be on the young turks with Santos-Ocampo, winner at Palos Verdes, Hong, who ruled the Pueblo de Oro leg; and Gialon, who beat Tony Lascuna in the playoff in Negros Occidental, tipped to figure prominently in the battle for the top P200,000 purse.
Minoza, meanwhile, draws long-time rival Robert Pactolerin in the 10:50 a.m. flight on No. 1 with Jesse Saragoza, while Bayron is bunched with Michael Bibat and last year’s three-leg winner and ICTSI PGT top player Jhonnel Ababa in the next group.
An early shootout is also expected in the 7:30 a.m. flight on No. 10 among Fernando, Dumandan and the long-hitting Rey Pagunsan, while Murakami is paired with James Lam and Gary Sales in the 10:40 a.m. flight on No. 10.
Wack Wack will the final leg for the second straight year on Dec.19-22 with a total prize pot of P2.5 million up for grabs.