Artemio Murakami sets course record 64
CANLUBANG—Artemio Murakami gunned down seven birdies on the back nine and shot a course-record 8-under-par 64 Wednesday that lifted him to a three-stroke lead over Anthony Fernando at the start of the P1 million BDO Canlubang Golf Invitational at Cangolf’s south course here.
Murakami, still searching for his first win this year, posted a Tour best 29 on the last nine holes of a hot, windless day, touching off his explosive homeward trip with a birdie on No. 11.
The sizzling round came as a big surprise for the power-hitting Fil-Japanese shotmaker, who scored two wins last year, including the all-Filipino Philippine Open, but remained winless so far this season.
“Tsamba lang (It was pure luck),” said Murakami, whose career best was a 62 when he reigned at The Country Club Invitational in 2009.
Fernando, coming off a joint runner-up finish in last Sunday’s Sabah Masters, also had a sizzling round going before two three-putt bogeys left him with a 67.
Jerson Balasabas took third in the 54-hole event sponsored by Banco de Oro with a 68 in an early morning flight while Richard Sinfuego put himself in contention with a 69.
Two of the fancied bets, who like Balasabas and Sinfuego call the par-72 layout their home, struggled.
Mark Fernando took a 7 on the par-4 16th for a 74 and Jonel Ababa posted a 42 on the front nine and finished with a 77.
Ababa, coming off a six-shot romp over Fernando and Tony Lascuña at ICTSI Calatagan two weeks ago, dropped three strokes in the first six holes at the front before fumbling with a triple-bogey seven on No. 7.
Fernando, another favorite, took his seven when he lost his ball after hitting a tree on his approach on the par-4 No. 16.
Seven players turned in one-under 71s, including Rey Pagunsan, Elmer Saban, Gene Bondoc, Robert Pactolerin, Richard Abaring and unheralded Terence Macatangay and amateur Alex Nallos while Ferdie Aunzo, Rufino Bayron, Tomokazu Yoshinaga and Gary Sales all matched par 72.
The 28-year-old Murakami posted his best finish of joint runner-up in this year’s ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour at ICTSI Sherwood won by Elmer Salvador by a record 10 strokes.
He fared even poorly in the Asian Tour, where he scored a breakthrough win in the 2007 Johor Open. In nine tournaments, he missed the cut seven times.
Murakami birdied No. 9 to snap a run of pars then after missing a 10-footer for birdie on the 10th, he knocked down a four-footer on No. 11 to ignite his sizzling run.
Fenando hit the turn with a 31, but lost his touch after scoring an eagle 2 on No. 12 with a 56-degree wedge shot from 120 yards that spun back and disappeared into the hole.
The former national champion stumbled with two three-putt bogeys and settled for a 36 coming home.