Murakami keeps Order of Merit lead, Dabawenyo in 4th with P460+ winnings

Asian Tour campaigner Artemio Murakami continued to hold sway in the Order of Merit ranking of the ICTSI-Philippine Golf Tour, piling up earnings of P557,450 after five legs of the country’s premier 13-stage circuit.

Boosted by his come-from-behind victory in the Mercedes-Benz Masters Philippines at the Manila Southwoods last April, Murakami, 27, kept his lead over a charging Mars Pucay with a third place finish in the ICTSI-Forest Hills Invitational recently.

Pucay, also a regular campaigner on the Asian Tour and the Mercedes-Benz Tour, snapped a long title drought on the local front by ruling the Forest Hills stage, outdueling reigning Philippine Open champion Elmer Salvador of Davao City and Murakami in a final round shootout.

With his P200,000 prize, the 39-year-old Pucay, who also finished joint second with Jay Bayron at Southwoods, moved up to second with P493,921 winnings. Bayron, the erstwhile frontrunner with runner-up finishes at
ICTSI Classics at Mt. Malarayat and Sherwood, slid to third with earnings of P460, 471.

Salvador, winner at Mt. Malarayat, the kickoff leg of this year’s circuit sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc. and organized by the Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc., is in fourth with P402,746 winnings.

Juvic Pagunsan, who dominated the field at ICTSI Classic at Riviera last month, grabbed the fifth spot with P316,996 earnings followed by Sherwood leg winner Marvin Dumandan (P266, 973), Angelo Que, who also placed second
at Southwoods (P257,571), Orlan Sumcad (P187,700), Tony Lascuna (P164,818) and Danny Zarate (P162,627.

The OOM race is expected to heat up as the pros brace for the ICTSI Mt. Malarayat Championship, the sixth leg of the tour backed by MJ Carr Golf Management, Jaguar, Land Rover, Studio 23, Balls TV, Srixon/Cleveland Golf, Callaway Golf, Odyssey, Golf Punk, Business Mirror, Inquirer Golf Monthly, A Round of Golf, Pinoygolfer.com and
Omnisource.
Pagunsan will be the player to watch in the four-day event, the fifth leg of the 10-stage Mercedes-Benz Tour, following his runaway victory in the fourth stage in Phuket, Thailand over the weekend.
From Malarayat, the local tour goes to the Orchard Golf and Country Club in Dasmarinas, Cavite for the seventh leg – the ICTSI Orchard Golf Championship –before it goes south for the provincial swing.

Apo will host the eighth stage on July 14-16 for the ICTSI Apo Golf Invitational, then Pueblo de Oro in Cagayan de Oro will take its turn to stage the event on July 21-23 for the ICTSI Pueblo de Oro Championship.

The Cebu Country Club will host a leg of the tour for the first time in a long while as it stages the ICTSI CCC Invitational
on Aug. 11-13 before the circuit heads back to Luzon for the ICTSI Royal Northwoods Championship on Oct. 6-8 at Royal Northwoods Golf and Country Club in San Rafael, Bulacan.

The Valley Golf Club in Antipolo will host the penultimate leg on Nov. 10-12, the ICTSI Valley Golf Challenge before the
circuit winds up in Canlubang on Dec. 8-10 for the Tour Championship.

A pro-am tournament, featuring ICTSI officials and their guests plus celebrities, will be held the day before the pro tournament of each leg.(pr)

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